I’m No Angel

My mother was very close to naming me Paige Jhene Williams. It’s not a horrible name by any means, but I just couldn’t ever picture myself as a Paige. It lacks a certain oomph or a certain pizzazz that I personally feel all names should possess. I thank God every day that my father swooped in like the superhero I always saw him to be and saved my mother the trouble of naming me such an ill-fitting name. They agreed to keep Paige, but lose the Jhene, and instead drew inspiration from one of their favorite cartoons.

That’s right. I was named after Angelica Pickles from the popular 90’s cartoon The Rugrats. I’m not at all ashamed about this fact one bit; I never have been. I have always adored the idea of my parents casually sitting at home, my mother’s belly protruding excessively, and my father snuggled up by her side watching babies in diapers talk to one another. 

I will say though, I’m nothing like the young girl whose name I was given. That Angelica had balls, was fierce in everything she said and did, and was also—forgive me— kind of a bitch. I don’t think I possess any of her qualities. I am quiet, a little standoffish, and not nearly as mean. So, when on occasion, certain teachers and fellow peers would hear my name and say, “Hey Angelica Pickles!”, I would get slightly offended. My last name isn’t Pickles, it’s Williams. I must admit though that that isn’t even the worst of the worst that has come with owning this name. The biggest issue I have had to deal with being named Angelica is people asking me the same old tired question. 

“Ah, what’s your name tag say?” said some random middle-aged man standing in my line one day at H-E-B.

For a few seconds, I stared at him blankly because my name was written as clear as day on the tag pinned to my uniform. Despite this, I just proceeded to amuse him because he genuinely seemed curious.

“It’s Angelica.” I said with a fake smile plastered on my face.

“Oh! What a nice name. So, that must mean you’re an angel, right? Are you angelic Angelica?” He said followed up by a laugh so unnecessarily loud it made my ears cringe.

“Ha. Ha. Yeah, I guess so!” I said with a shrug as I quickly handed him his receipt while silently praying that the next customer would spare me the awkwardness.

That was the rational response that any decent person would give a stranger like himself. What I really wanted to tell him was that his little joke was not funny. At all. It hadn’t been funny since the gazillion other times I’ve heard it the past twenty years of my life. 

I also wanted to tell him how silly of a question that is to ask someone. Like, seriously? Am I some horrible person who just goes around being mean to people all the time? No. Have I run multiple red lights and snuck McDonalds into a movie theater before? Yes, of course, all the time. 

If he would have asked my mother that same question, she would’ve laughed even harder than he did at his own joke. She would’ve told him that I’ve always been a good child, but that I was very destructive. Yeah, that’s her favorite thing to say about me; that I kinda had a thing for destroying things. She would’ve told him about the time I set my Aunt Kathy’s dining room wall on fire at the tender age of two. Apparently, I was curious about whether something besides a plug could be stuck inside an outlet. It’s actually quite amazing that I didn’t electrocute myself or anything.

My mother also might’ve mentioned the many times I’ve broken toys or cut the hair off my Bratz dolls’ heads despite her telling me not to do it. Better yet, she would’ve told him about how, when I was three or four years old, I sat in my innocent Aunt Tiffany’s lap and said to her “Swiper no swiping!” out of nowhere and then proceeded to slap her in the face. It wasn’t a tiny slap either; it had some crazy childlike strength behind it. I still to this day blame that stupid Dora for the whipping I was awarded with that night. Instead of going down a rabbit hole of explanation as to why I am not nor have I ever been or ever will be an angel, I just let people have their fun. However, one thing I couldn’t let slide for many years of my life was the mispronunciation of my name. I truly feel my name is as easy to pronounce as “Emily” or “Ashley”. For whatever reason teachers, specifically in my adolescent years, became so perplexed when it came to saying my name out loud.  

“Hi everyone! My name is Mrs. Allen welcome to the fourth grade! When I call your name please say ‘here’ or ‘present’. Courtney Adams...Joshua Moore...Quentin Rhodes...An-gel-lee-ka Williams?” She looked up with such a contorted look on her face. She wasn’t sure if that was right so then she proceeded to say it wrong again but differently.

“An-gel-lee-ka? Or is it An-hell-ika?" Her eyes searched around the room for the owner of one of these names. 

I wanted to scream out, “IT ISN’T THAT HARD OF A NAME TO PRONOUNCE. AN-GEL-ICA! WHERE IS THE ‘LEE’ EVEN COMING FROM?,” but I couldn’t do that because I was only like eight years old and too quiet to say much about it. So, I just said what I always said to confused teachers and strangers alike, “Here! It’s Angelica. Like from The Rugrats.” That in its simplicity eased her distress and put a smile on her face. It worked every time.

Being named this wonderful name has come with plenty of crazy, odd, and uncomfortable situations. I have been nicknamed “Angie”, “Ang”, and “Angel” against my will. My name has been pronounced as everything but what it actually is, and people continuously ask me about my behavioral status. All this used to bother me when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized people can’t help but to just be people. They make corny puns and pronounce names incorrectly. It’s a part of life.

I truly love my name and I take pride in my ownership, and I mean it’s not like it’s been all bad experiences with this name. I have had several people say that they love my name and think it’s different and pretty. More recently, this past summer I held a surprising conversation with a customer while bagging their groceries.  

“How do you pronounce your name? Is it Angelica?” said yet another man but this time slightly older.

“Yes. That’s correct, it's Angelica.” I responded with a bit of shock in my tone. However, I didn’t want to get too excited because I just knew what was coming next. “Wow that’s a really lovely name. I have never heard of that before. If I ever have another granddaughter, I’ll tell ‘em to name her that.” He said with a genuine smile as he left out pushing his groceries ahead of him.   

To think that one day a future Angelica might be sitting down writing an essay about how she was named after a grocery store clerk like me would be pretty cool.