02 November 2009

Perry Arla

Pamela was not my intended name. A contraction of παν (pan) "all" and μελι (meli) "honey," it means all sweetness. As baby names go, you can't get more auspicious.

When I was born, my parents intended to name me Perry Arla, which I've always thought is a kick-ass name. It is strong and unusual, and I like its androgyny.

I spent a good deal of time in my adolescence wondering what life would have been like had I remained Perry Arla. And although it was not my name, I experimented using it as my signature, as swoony girls do with the object of their crush's last name. I no doubt spelled it with an i, dotted with an over-sized bubble, or possibly a heart that threatened to capsize the whole affair.

Yet my maternal grandmother did not like Perry Arla one bit. She thought it sounded like a gum disease, and she may have had a point.

And so, on my original birth certificate, in fraying black and white mimeograph, the name field is blank, and there is a stamp on the back, dated January 9, 1969, which reads:

This is to advise you that the name "Pamela Allison" has been inserted on the birth record of your child in accordance with the notice recieved from you. Certified copies of the record made in future will include the childs full name.  

And thus, I came into the world, with a ready made identity crisis. And while things have worked out well for me as Pamela, I thought I would take Perry Arla as my nom de plume, in homage to the girl I wasn't, and in gratitude for the one I am.