Tiffani “with an ‘i’, not a ‘y’ on the end” Michele

I’m just going to come out and say it. My name irritates me.

I love that it’s what my parents chose. I love hearing the people that I care about say it to me. I love that I have a name rather than a number or a letter. But that’s about the extent of my appreciation for it.

My struggle with my name started way back in Kindergarten, when you have to learn to write your name. It didn’t take me very long to figure out that kids with the name “Adam” and “Jen” had a much easier time of it. When you only have 3 or 4 letters in your name, you learn it quicker, write it faster, and are done sooner. All the 3 letter named kids were off playing hopscotch and jumprope when I was still struggling to remember which letters were in my name in which order and goddamn it which way do the ‘f’s go again?! 7 motherfucking letters in my name, people. It’s hard to find someone with more letters than that, and I missed out on a lot of play time trying to learn how to write them all down properly.

It didn’t get any better, because by the time I learned how to spell my name, I then had to learn how to write it in cursive. Have you seen an uppercase T in cursive? It’s a beast. Look at it…it’s full of swirls and doodly doos and pen swipes and a bunch of different changes in pen directions. Uppercase cursive T was a bitch to learn, and I hated writing it, but for my entire 4th grade year I had to write it dozens of times a day. I couldn’t avoid it, it was right there in my name. My other friends without a name that started with T only had to write it when using “the” at the start of a sentence. They all agreed, uppercase T’s are a son of a bitch to write. Somehow mine always ended up looking like a sailboat that was taking on water and sinking into a sea of despair. A conscientious child, my dismal T’s concerned me greatly and so I spent hours trying to write them in a more beautiful manner so I could get on the “Star Student Handwriting Board” with all my other 3-letter-starts-with-an-A named friends.

Guess how many times I ended up on the perfect penmanship board? Go ahead, guess. That’s right, bitches. Exactly none. None times. That’s when I learned hard work doesn’t really pay off and so I spent my 5th grade year slacking off on homework so I could watch The Muppet Show.

In middle and high school it stayed just as bad. There are no cute little nicknames for Tiffani, no sweet rhyming words. I longed to be named Nicole or some variant, just so I could shorten it to Nikki and be totally badass. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said, “with an “i”, not a “y” at the end” after telling someone my name, I’d estimate that the stack would line up end to end and circle the universe. And then as soon as you say something like that, people lose their minds and write whatever stupid shit they want. Like, if you break one common rule then logic flies out the window for any of it. I’ve seen my name written “Tyffani”, “Tiffini”, “Tyffyni”, etc. This is only aggravated with my following name, Michele. One “l”. How obnoxious is this: “My name is Tiffani Michele with an I at the end not a Y and one L.”

This leads to my final irritant about my name. It’s really presumptuously snobby. I have a cousin in law who also has the name Tiffany. Or, she used to. At the end of law school they had exit interviews and the interviewer also reviewed name connotations. Apparently the connotation for “Tiffany” was so bad, she changed it to her middle name Marie before starting off on her career in law. It’s not like Nikki…thats the kind of name for a girl that will play a game of catch with you while picnicking at the park wearing jeans and a tank top. Tiffani is the kind of name for a girl that is too busy to have any fun because she’s at the salon getting her hair and nails done. Maybe if I really was named Nikki, I’d be better at sports in general. But no Tiffani has ever been or ever will be good at manual labor or dexterity. There are no Tiffani’s in the olympics. We’re only actresses, apparently. We get by on our well groomed looks and frosty personality.

So, to sum up…reasons why my name aggravates me:

*No one ever sings songs about Tiffani, except when The Eagles sang “her mind was Tiffany twisted…” in Hotel California and what the fuck does that mean? I’m snobby and crazy?

*It’s hard to write poems to me because of that whole non rhyming thing.

*It’s laborious to write my name because of the 7 motherfucking letters in it.

*It’s hard to write it and have it look pretty.

My sister hated her name and changed it in her 37th year. My 8 year old just asked me why I didn’t name her Eagle Nebula, so she might be changing her name at some point in the future, too. Me? I think I’ll stick with mine. Yeah it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s so much a part of me I think I’d miss it when no one said it anymore.

But I’ll still always have a part of me that wishes I was a Nikki.



Post a comment
  1. September 24, 2012

    It could be worse. My name is Brittney. As a child that became the following: Buttney, Bratney, Bitchney, Titney…I could go on for days.

  2. September 24, 2012

    you should totally narrate this. it would be an awesome video. and you can use some awesome photos as the visual…

    seriously. your writing is genius mothingfucking genius.

  3. September 24, 2012

    I can totally see Mitchel and Makinely writing pieces like this in the future. Who straps their kids with unusually spelt names from birth! Shit .. Makinely now goes my KJ and Mitchel chooses Mitch to avoid the one L conversation.

    Love this!!

  4. Kathy #
    September 24, 2012

    hehehe…my sisters name is…Eunice… And yes, it gets better…Eunice Jean. So, no she could never swap out the middle name. She did change her name to Jackie when she was 16, that lasted about 6 months. And before anyone says…ohh…its unique…tell me how many times you were called Uranus…because somehow Uranus = Eunice. Because kids are so damn fucking nice. My mom will tell you her biggest regret…naming Eunice, Eunice. So I am extremely thankful, and feel very blessed when my biggest obstacle in the name game is telling someone its Kathy with a K.

  5. kathy #
    September 24, 2012

    hehehe…my sisters name is…Eunice… And yes, it gets better…Eunice Jean. So, no she could never swap out the middle name. She did change her name to Jackie when she was 16, that lasted about 6 months. And before anyone says…ohh…its unique…tell me how many times you were called Uranus…because somehow Uranus = Eunice. Because kids are so damn fucking nice. My mom will tell you her biggest regret…naming Eunice, Eunice. So I am extremely thankful, and feel very blessed when my biggest obstacle in the name game is telling someone its Kathy with a K.

  6. Linda #
    September 24, 2012

    You were born for that name, because lo and behold, there is now a Tifftini! And you wouldn’t want to abandon your namesake drink, now would you??? 😉

  7. September 24, 2012

    I’m the one with the 3 letter name beginning with A… Although, everyone gets it wrong… 26 years and my Aunties/Uncles still spell it ‘Ami’ or ‘Ame’ or ‘Ayme’ or ‘Aime’ on my birthday cards…. None of those are actual spellings of the name? It’s good that you like yours to a certain extent as I’m pretty sure everyone hates their name even just a little bit, one way or the other…

  8. Cid #
    September 25, 2012

    My given name is Cynthia… so I hear ya on the 7 mother-lovin letters… tho a cursive “C” is waaaaay easier than a “T” 😉 I think it was around first grade that I started going by Cindy (writing two less letters may have been a motivator, but I don’t remember)… and now I can’t imagine being anything but Cid =) a short-lived nickname from JrHigh that I decided to use as my online handle on homeschooling lists (around 10 years ago)… and then I decided it was much more fitting than anything else I’d gone by. For what it’s worth, I think you’ve elevated the name Tiffani to amazing fucking heights… I hear Tiffani and immediately think FUN!

  9. September 25, 2012

    Jennifer. Elizabeth. Big honkin’ full names. And yes, I go by Jen now, but it was full on Jennifer for a long time, then Jenny/Jenni/Jennie until I got sick of it all and cut it down as far as it could go.
    And I agree with Linda. There ain’t no Jentini, that’s for sure. LOL

  10. September 25, 2012

    Anita. And I worked in a bar forever.
    “Anita…DRINK! – hahahahaha!!!!”
    Right. Because you’re the first person to ever make that joke.
    Anita this, Anita that, everyone is a joker.

  11. September 25, 2012

    I hated my name when i was younger because i wanted to be called something more common. I tried many times to convince everyone to use my middle name. Was never successful.
    Now i get annoyed when people in real life call me “shelbyisrad” like they’re so clever that they can read my twitter name.

  12. Ani #
    September 26, 2012

    Here I go…my name is Anita, but not like you think. It is not “Ah-neat-uh” it is “Ah-knit-tah”. Apparently, it is a common Latvian name (my heritage), but boy howdy, it sure doesn’t work in the US. I would start to squirm the first day of school every year when they would call roll and I would have to tell my teacher how to pronounce my name was which would necessarily be followed by a geography lesson on Latvia. I worked with a bartender who started calling me “Ani” and now I go by that. Not a whole lot easier, but somewhat. That being said, I love that I have a piece of my heritage in my name.

  13. September 26, 2012

    I knew a girl whose name was spelled Mary, but promounced “Marry”.

  14. September 26, 2012

    i can relate 100% i am Tara but its said Tera and it never seems to cease on the mis pronunciation

  15. kellyi #
    September 27, 2012

    My name is Kelly Ireland. Many, many times people have asked me if that’s my real name, and several times people have said “OMG, could you be more Irish?” Actually. Yes. I’m English, divided from Ireland by a whole sea. There was one highlight. Upon arriving in Dublin, the passport control looked at my name, and without even glancing up said “Welcome to your country, Miss Ireland” 😀

  16. October 16, 2012

    Imma go ahead and claim Worst Name status over here. Kiesha. No wait, make it Kiesha Jenkins. On a paler-than-pale white girl. AND it’s spelled wrong!
    Fun stories:
    Teachers wouldn’t even attempt to pronounce it. My high school principal called me Kish-ah. We had to write our names down in the order we were sitting for graduation for him to read them off, so I wrote mine and then in parenthesis wrote “Pronounced Key-sha”. I couldn’t take it anymore. He got it right.
    Despite having heard my name many times, a boss at work insisted on calling me Kai-ee-sha. I have no idea. Finally one day I answered the phone, “This is Kiesha” and he was like, “Oh, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong?” A-yup.
    The spellings. Oy, the spellings. I’ve gotten so used to Keisha that I often type it that way myself. Starbucks is the best though. The other day it was Keyshia. Kishea. Yesterday the girl wrote “Tasha.”
    I made an appointment for a trial run for my wedding makeup. The salon called a few weeks later and left a message saying I would need to go to another salon and, “We know you requested an African-American stylist….” When I went to the appointment, I sat down in the waiting area and a black woman came out and I just knew she was the stylist. She looked at me and then walked to the other side of the waiting room. Seeing no other black women, she asked in a confused voice, “Kiesha?” I stood up. “That’s me…”
    I swear my name got me job interviews (sadly not the jobs).
    My dad once said, “Barack Obama… doesn’t that sound like a Muslim name?” And I said, “Does Kiesha Jenkins sound like it belongs on a white girl?” And he said, “You’ll have to talk to your mother about that.” And I responded, “Well, maybe you need to talk to Barack Obama’s mother about his name.” He shut up after that.
    Hyphenating my last name after getting married has just compounded it all.
    My middle name is Kay, so I joke that when I’m about 55, I’ll just start wearing pink track suits and going by Kay. My husband is Robert; I told him he can be Bert. Bert n’ Kay. Sounds great.

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