Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Name is JONELLE!!

When I was born some 38 years ago my parents were shocked!  They thought for sure I was going to be a BOY and my name was going to be JOHN, named after my paternal-grandfather!  Thus the dilemma of what to name Garo girl #3.  The story goes that during my mom's WEEK LONG (are you kidding me...managed care 24 hours and you are out on your ear!), stay in the hospital the nurses were urging her to name her baby...they needed to write something besides Baby Garo on my birth certificate!  One version of the "Name" is that the woman sharing my mom's hospital room said, "Why don't you name her Jonelle, it is the feminine form of John in French!"  The other version, told by my Dad, is HE is the one who came up with my name.  Which ever version you chose is your preference, but my name is still JONELLE.  I didn't like my name much growing up...There were NO bicycle license plates, mugs,pencils, key chains, stickers, etc. with my name on them.  The closest I ever came was a mug that simply read, "SUE" (this was the closest anyone ever got...since my MIDDLE name is SUZANNE!) Invariable the first day of school the teacher would call roll and say, "Suzanne?, Suzanne? SUZANNE? (of course I was ignoring this), or they would butcher my name so badly that I would just stare at them in disbelief.  But as I got older I realized that my name was SO COOL...it is totally unique.  I had never met ANYONE ELSE with my name. (until 1984 when the short-lived, night drama, BERINGERS came out and there was an actress named JONELLE!, oh, and one of the check-out girls at the Meat Market...) other than that, I was special!  The problem was that EVERYONE, besides my family, either couldn't read my name, say my name or remember my name.  And the problem was wide-spread!  People at EVERY church I attended, professors at schools, people I babysat for, bosses, co-workers, Jane Seymour, etc...The day I was ordained, channel 24 came out to video the service and interview people in the congregation about how they felt about me becoming a Badveli (that's pastor in Armenian).   I watched the news clip in horror as the congregant who was interviewed was going on and on about how much he and the others loved and respected, JANELLE!!!  This has gone on my whole life and some of the variations are quite comical: Janelle & Jonette (both of which are beautiful names and the names of beautiful women in my Bible Study Fellowship group in Fresno, I love and miss you and all the GALS so much!!!), JOEnelle, Jonlynn, Jonlee, one good friend's mom called me JOELENE after the Dolly Parton song (she was from TN and just couldn't shake it!).  Of course these names have not only caused great frustraion for me but tremendous entertainment for my family.  Phil still calls me Joelene and those who really want to torment me (you KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!) call me Janelle.  So why am I airing all my issues with people not knowing my name?  It is NOT because I don't have a therapist here!  It IS because I have found that ARMENIANS DON'T know my name EITHER!!!  The Jonelle name problem is PANDEMIC!!!  It usually goes something like this, "Ko anunit inch es?" (what is your name?) then I reply, "JOHN-L", "INCH?" (what?) "Jonelle", "Jana?" "Che" (No) "Jonelle, Hovanessoohee" (that literally is the feminine form of John), They laugh or look confused.  On the phone it is hysterical.  My one friend who calls at least once every two weeks.  She is (I'm guessing) about 70 years old.  Ring, Ring, I pick up and say, "Ah-Low", She says, "Ah-Low", "O-va?" (Hello, who is this?), "Yes, Jonelle em" (It's Jonelle), Louder, "O-va?!" "Yes, Jonelle em!"  Yelling, "O-VA?!"  "JONELLE!"  Then I wait and she says, "Ah-LOW?!"  As if she wants to start over and I will somehow Magically NOT be who I am.  Some of my NEW names are Jana, Chanelle & Chano, but my favorite one has to be what my cousin Ashot called my by accident.  Usually family and friends add Jan to the end of your name as a term of endearment.  So Kalem is Kalem-jan, Nana is Nan-jan, and I usually am Jonelle-jan.  But one day Ash called me Jon-Jan...and I told him...finally a Wrong name I actually like!  So if you are reading this and you are one of the 10's of thousands who calls me JANELLE...this is your final warning.  When you see me again Remember, MY NAME IS JONELLE or you can call me JON-JAN!  : ) 

7 comments:

Keidi said...

I feel your pain, Jonelle!! So accutely! Akeida is bad enough (especially thanks to Alqaeda) but even Keidi caused problems. One teacher asked: "So you spell it with a K but pronounce your name Heidi"? Nooooo! And then I got a call from Adessa's doctors office. They asked to speak to "Akeeda" the mother of "Adeeesa". Here we go again! 8)

Curious George said...

Here is the deal Jonelle. Your name is very similar to that of famous chefs from around the world. People, like myself, that have tasted your awesome food instantly think of chefs like chef Jon, Jone, Jonel, Joelene and many others. So, when people do not pronounce your name correctly, it is only because they mistake you for one of the best chefs in the world.
It happens to me all the time at the club when I lift weights. People ask me my name and then they say, "Are you George Foreman?

Kenj said...

I don't need to tell you this, because we grew up together and commiserated about the lack of tourist crap with our names on it at the Boardwalk, but...

When people hear my name but don't know me, they immediately assume I'm black. Not a bad thing at all, except I am whiter than a fish's belly and I can always see the shock on their faces when they meet me after having heard my name.

And actual black people? They've been known to call me Kenya :D

MrsMangas said...

I really don't see what the big deal is for people. Hooked on Phonics worked for me! But then I can relate..Shella, Shayla, Shlah and last but not least, "How do you say S-H-E-L-A. I wish MY mother had known how to SPELL s-h-e-i-l-a. Oh well..Eheeshteh (whatever?)...and I'm QUITE sure I either mis-spelled that or worse mis-pronounced it. Miss you! Shela

Ailurophyle said...

I'd always complained about my last name never getting pronounced correctly (not that anyone at church could commiserate), but it didn't occur to me to be thankful that the only question I ever got on my first name was "one 'l' or two?" Even so, at least you probably never had to go by "Jonelle G."--and now you have a unique name that is associated just with you, and thus fits you to a T!

By the way, guess what just came up on my playlist? Jumping in the House of God!

Don't squeeze the Charmin said...

i have had the same problem all my life - my name is Caryn - i have been called Carol, Carolyn, Sharaan (funny story)... also my brother-in-law is Armenian and i am now studying the language - Jon-Jan is very cute!!

unfortunately vowels in English have so many different pronunciations, and so many exceptions to the rules, it's hard for people to be certain sometimes...

nice story! :)

Jonelle said...

I know what you mean. I've had my name pronounced JOE-nelle, JOE-lene, Julian, Jenalee, Janella, and John-elle. I think the last is how you pronounce yours, but I prononce mine Juh-nelle. I still don't know why Juh is spelled Jo, but that's what my dad wanted. I constantly have to answer the question- If it's pronounced Juh-nelle, why is it spelled with an O. I still can't answer that question.