Storytime: What’s in a Name? Part 1

You may have noticed that my name – Brenna – is kind of unusual. If you google “Brenna Fender,” you’ll mostly find stuff about me, although there is another woman named Brenna who married into the name Fender, which I find kind of irritating. It seems as though she’s a beauty consultant at Dress Barn, which is so far away from who I am that it’s actually pretty hilarious. I’m a little embarrassed for her. I mean, if people get mostly my stuff and think it’s hers, they are going to think she’s a TERRIBLE beauty consultant. Honestly, I’m surprised she hasn’t messaged me yet to offer me free consulting just to boost her image.

Probably she should get another name. I’m just saying. “Brenna Fender” is MINE.

Anyway, because my first name is BrenNa and my last name is FenDer, people sometimes swap the letters and call me Brenda Fenner. I get that. It makes sense. And really a lot of people just call me Brenda even without seeing my last name. “Brenda” is a much more common name, so they just assume it’s a typo, I guess. You know, in my email address and signature and such. 

So, to make my life a little more interesting, I married someone whose last name is easy to say, as long as you aren’t looking at it. If you read it and then say it the way it appears to be spelled using English phonetics, you’ll be very wrong.

Now, I didn’t change my last name when I got married. I’m still Brenna Fender. My children both have my husband’s last name. I’ve encouraged them to politely correct people who say their names wrong, and I’ve written their last name phonetically for people who needed to read it aloud probably 100 times, even having in-person discussions with announcers at events who need to say it over PA systems. Even with that discussion, odds are good that it will be said wrong, but I try. I’ve been an event announcer before and I know it’s a really hard job to do, so I get it. But I feel like your name is an important part of you, and saying it correctly is just a respectful thing to do.

That said, people call me Mrs. Mispronounced Name a lot of the time. We’re more than a quarter of a century past when I made the choice to keep my name rather than take my husband’s, but many of my kids’ doctor’s offices and similar places assume otherwise. This occurs even when I’ve handed them my credit card WITH MY NAME ON IT 100 times. 

I’m not particularly bothered by being called Mrs. Mispronounced Name, but the problem is when it’s being said by someone who will also be addressing my kids. Do I correct the pronunciation on behalf of my children? But then it’s like I’m agreeing to that being my name, which it isn’t. So really I need to say something like, “It’s pronounced this way, but I actually go by Ms. Fender” which will probably raise eyebrows and create questions and whatnot and I’m generally not feeling like stirring up a whole discussion of REASONS when I just want to make my co-pay.

Due to my reluctance to speak up like a damn grown-up, I’ve wound up in a situation where a receptionist has called me Mrs. Mispronounced Name FOR YEARS. I have literally seen her nearly once a week for probably 5 years now and she’s said it wrong every time. If I’d just sucked it up and fixed the whole thing at the beginning, there would be no issue, but I can tell you that the statute of limitations on correcting my name with her has definitely run the hell out. It’s gotten to the point where I feel kind of sheepish every time she greets me or calls me over to pay (with the credit card with my name on it, but I digress). But I’m stuck.

Now every appointment is Telehealth and at first, she was sometimes calling me to take my payment prior to the appointment, but mostly someone else called (who also called me by the wrong name but that’s not the story here). And now I’ve reached my out of pocket deductible (yay?) so nobody calls me anymore. Perfect.

Except last week, we saw someone else in the practice for another issue, and we needed to make a follow-up appointment. The receptionist called me to set it up. Imagine my surprise when I answered the phone and that familiar voice said, “Brenda? It’s [redacted] from Dr. [redacted]’s* office. I’m calling to make that follow-up appointment you need.”

She called me by my first name. That’s never happened. And SHE MISPRONOUNCED IT. And guess what? I was so damn shocked I didn’t correct her. 

I’M NOW FOREVER DOOMED TO BE BRENDA MISPRONOUNCED NAME.

Maybe we need a new doctor. 

*Redacted because I actually still want to be able to make appointments in the future.

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