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Monday, 22 November 2010

The Fame of the Name

By Madonna Dries Christensen of On Worlud Pond

I’ve known only four others with the name Madonna: an older cousin; a girl my brother dated; the sister of a guy I dated; and our namesake, the Blessed Lady. She’s the one a librarian was referring to when she handed back my card and said, “Pretty name. Is it hard to live up to?”

I replied that I had never tried living up to it.

That was before the infamous Madonna, the celebrity. These days, it’s more like living it down.

A doctor, studying my chart, said, “Madonna, huh? Well, I don’t think the other one has any talent and I’m sure you’re nicer than she is.” Now that’s bedside manner.

When my daughter told her college friends that her mother’s name was Madonna, they scoffed, “Yeah, right.” She had to show them my return address sticker.

At a family reunion, my young nieces giggled that they couldn’t wait to tell their friends they had been with Madonna over the weekend.

A supermarket checker always greeted me, “Hi Madonna.” I don't know if she knew all her regular customers by name or just mine. Sometimes when clerks scan my credit card they glance at me, checking to see if it could possibly be - . One look clears that up. I would never be mistaken for the music star. I’m older, I wear glasses, I have dark hair (she does, too, sometimes), and I never wear a metal bra. In Florida’s heat and humidity? No way.

One young bank teller glanced at my check and said, “Wow, you have a famous name. I've never met a Madonna.”

“I had the name before she did,” I said.

She smiled. “She used to be my idol.”

“Not any more?”

“Nah, I've grown up.”

Behind me in line, an eavesdropper said, “I heard Madonna’s gonna have a baby, but I’ve never heard who the father is.”

“Maybe a virgin birth,” I offered.

A woman who works in my neighborhood pharmacy sometimes calls me Evita. A journalist who interviewed me for an article said, “Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the eighties, but I think your name is awesome.”

Madonna recently invaded my writing territory, too. But she writes children’s books so I don’t have to compete with her there. However, I often end up in the same search engine hits, where some of them offer porn regarding her, that one, the other one.

Someone once told me she can’t stand Madonna but she admires her business savvy and the way she promotes herself. I do not admire Madonna for any reason. Particularly because she made my once uncommon name a household word, and not a particularly flattering one.

I understand that Madonna has a new boyfriend whose name is Jesus and that she adheres to Kabbalah, a faith based on the study of Hebrew texts. And she changed her name to Esther. I saw this headline: “Madonna calls for US troops to leave Iraq (AFP).” Would that have the same impact if it read: “Esther calls for US troops to leave Iraq?” I don’t think so.

Still, all of you Esthers might want to prepare yourselves. Should the new name become ingrained in public consciousness, bear with it. Maybe she’ll change her name again.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:31 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Good piece of writing, Madonna!

I'm glad you still enjoy your name, in spite of it having been tossed about all over the world for 30 years in an indiscriminate manner. I was named after a suicidal Canadian quintuplet. Fortunately, the quints fell out of the spotlight quickly and I was free to settle into a cross between St. Cecilia and the cartoon Beanie & Cecil in people's associations. In my case, it is an oddly appropriate cross to bear.

It's a wonder parents can muster the courage to name their children anything it all with risk involved!

Thank you for your essay, Madonna!

Thank you for your name story. I enjoyed reading about all the experiences and feelings it caused. I think name stories are very powerful because they are part of how we identify ourselves.

Clever post, Madonna. I was named after Marilyn Miller (Marilyn is my legal name), but by the time I was grown, there was a more notorious Marilyn in Hollywood. I have often said "Marilyn as in Monroe," and everyone knows instantly how to spell it!


Never really thought about you having an uncommon name. Guess cause your my cousin. Great story, thanks for sharing.

Hi, Cousin Jackie.

Lyn, no one ever asks how to spell Madonna either.

Thanks for the comments everyone.

What's in a name? You have just answered the old question.

My last name is the same as one of a famous movie star and I get asked if I am related to him every time I use my credit card or fill out a form.

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