Sunday, April 26, 2009


One of my new collegues (Canadian, about my age, very cool) told me the other night over dinner (roasted duck stuffed with rice, jujubes, peas, lentils and chestnuts) that I seemed like a Doris to her. I was startled. I'm so utterly convinced of my X-treme...Susan-ness, Susan-ity?? that it's difficult to wrap my head around another identity.
Furthermore, Doris didn't feel very flattering. Doris felt like curlers under a head scarf, too-tight stretch pants and several missed trips to the facial waxing salon. On the book side, Doris felt like shabby Harlequin romance novels someone left in the doctor's office waiting room.
I couldn't fault Canadian Cool. Back in the 1980s, I had a neighbor named Pam and I couldn't stop calling her Betty. I have no idea why. Also, another new coworker seems like Nancy rather than Jeanne.
But Doris? Me? The name seemed to belong to a generation long before mine. Was Canadian Cool trying to subtly hint that I come across as staid? Old and finished? Doris. So close and yet so far from Dorothy, as in Dorothy Parker, who I dearly love. One syllable, as unreachable as the sun. Damn.
I ate a lot of duck and drank more than I'm used to, so when I fell into bed a couple of hours later, I was still chewing on Doris. When the alarm went off the next morning, my mind was clear and fresh and my first two thoughts were: Doris Lessing. Doris Kearns Goodwin.
I've felt fine ever since. Thanks, Canadian Cool!


raych said...

I had this camper one time named Melissa (or Danielle) and one of my other campers was all, You don't look like a Melissa (or Danielle), you look like a Danielle (or Melissa), so we ended up calling her Danielle (or Melissa) for the whole week, and now when I meet her in real life, I can never remember if her real name is Melissa or Danielle. So I just hug her and ask how school is.

Emily Rogers said...

Don't forget Doris Day!

Oh and I found a family tree that someone had made for the McCaslins of Go Down, Moses it was somewhat helpful but I think I might have been more confused after looking at it. It's on my blog if you want to take a look.

Bookfool said...

Good ending thoughts.

My mother-in-law is a Doris, but she goes by her middle name and it fits so much better. Her middle name is Yvonne. Talk about two names that conjure up completely different mental images. As a younger woman, she looked very much like Lauren Bacall and she no longer has that Barbie doll figure, but still . . . I don't think I'll ever see any Doris in my MIL.

Bybee said...

Maybe one of these times, she'll wear something monogrammed.

My mom immediately said Doris Day. She was a big fan...we went to Doris Day movies constantly when I was a kid. Thanks for the heads-up about that family tree. That book's starting to feel like homework.

Yes, I must have grappled with it in my sleep...happy I came up with Lessing and Kearns Goodwin.

See...? Even your MIL did a Doris dump.

Anonymous said...

very funny post! on a somewhat related note, if I had been a boy, my parents would have named me Darrin and I just don't like that name - I think of the wimp of the husband in Bewitched. no offense to any loved ones named Darrin! I'm just glad I am a girl.

Bybee said...

Also, Endora would deliberately say Darrin's name wrong in the most withering tone imaginable.

Anonymous said...

if i would have been a boy, i would have been sasha. my mom had another girl after me...and instead named our DOG sasha.

doris isn't so bad...i think of doris duke. :)

John Mutford said...

Wasn't that the name of the woman who played Ray's mom on Everybody Loves Raymond? That doesn't make you feel any better, does it?

I often get Mark. It's not quite as plain as John, but pretty close. Either way I'm boring.