Thursday, November 25, 2004

My life as Marie

This week, while visiting with my parents, they reminded me of an episode in fifth grade when I changed my name to Marie. My parents have lived on the Coast all of my life but they moved around a lot. I attended most public schools and some private schools in Orange Grove, Gulfport and Biloxi.

In the middle of fifth grade, I was moved to Orange Grove Elementary. As the principal was walking me down the hallway to the class, she read my transcript. "Shawn Marie Zehnder...Do you go by Shawn or Marie?" Well I never knew I had a choice. Marie, of course!

Only I forgot to tell my parents, who had been calling me Shawn since birth. My dad had been telling friends for weeks that there was no Marie at that house. One night I happened to be in the kitchen when I heard my father say, "I'm sorry. There is no Marie at this house. Stop calling!" Then I had to confess. And, of course, the first question is Why?

Shawn had no poetry to it. Can you think of one song off the top of your head with the name Shawn in it? No. Marie? Yes, yes, yes. The Shawns of this world are the songwriters...the Maries have the songs written about them. And I wanted to be a Marie, just for once, if only for a little while.

The Maries of this world aren't asked every day, Why Shawn? Why not Shawna? Didn't your parents know you were going to be a boy? Why don't you spell it Sean, like the boys? No one asks a Marie why!

And, oddly enough, this new Marie was very popular at her new school. She even caught the attention of Robert, the cutest boy in the class. She was best friends with Julie, the most popular girl in the class. But, alas, my life as Marie was cut short.

My parents moved back to Gulfport by sixth grade and I was returned to Shawndom. I was already known as "just Shawn" at my old school and couldn't possibly see a way to change it without risking ridicule. So Shawn it was, Shawn it now is and Shawn it shall always now be. But I will always have the memories of my one semester as Marie at least...Ahh, that was the life. ;)

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