That Which We Call Veronica

That Which We Call VeronicaAfter reading a post by a fellow blogger entitled Tamara, Literally Out Loud and identifying completely, it occurred to me that I too had enough experiential fodder for a post on the subject of my name.  What better way to celebrate my birthday than to share the story of my name?

I was born Veronica Monique.  I always thought it sounded like the name of a princess or at least someone elegant and classy.  I loved the way my Grandmother Yolanda said it best, with the Spanish accent.  That always made it more fancy.  However, feeling that it was too long a name for a little girl to learn how to spell, my parents instructed my kindergarten teacher to teach me how to write my nick name, Roni.

I should say that until the day Ms. Mazel showed me, no one had ever called me by my nickname, and all the while I was writing it at school, at home they still called me Veronica.  The spelling of my nickname when you look at it so obviously comes directly from my name that it is easy to see that the intent had been to work up to my being able to spell my proper name, but the nickname stuck with all my friends.  Everyone, once they really get to know me, calls me Roni, but they always seem to want to spell it Ronnie.

Middle school is where my name became an issue because that’s when note writing became a very big deal.  Ronnie was a boy’s name, and I was a girl, I’d always insist as I repeatedly corrected the spelling of my name R-O-N-I.  I even came up with my own slogan to help them remember: Roni, R-O-N-I.  Short, sweet and to the point, like me.

Kids are cruel.  Anyone who has been a kid knows this.  As soon as the spelling of my nickname was driven home they got annoyingly cruel saying my name with the long O, like in macaroni or the worst Rice-A-Roni.  That was one ad campaign that became a pain for me!  I grew to quickly hate Bobby Brown with the 1989 release of Roni.  There was one boy who thought he was being incredibly romantic by liking the Elvis Costello song Veronica, which happened to be released that same year.  As it was a song about an old woman looking back at her life, not even sure if her name was Veronica, and I was a very young girl looking forward to my life, clearly aware of my own name, I was not impressed.

In high school I tried to embrace my proper name more, though everyone still called me Roni.  I wanted to know what my name meant, where it came from, that sort of thing.  According to my mother I was named Veronica at my father’s suggestion.  The way she tells the story she suspected it was the name of an old girlfriend, but my father assured her it was after the Archie character Veronica, producing the much loved comics to prove it.  It would have been nice to say I was named after Veronica Lake, but as things go, being named after a popular fictional heiress isn’t so bad.  My middle name was that of one of my mother’s high school friends.

In trying to embrace my name I wanted to know its etymological origins.  According to one folk source Veronica is derived from the Latin vera meaning true and the Greek eikon meaning image.  This lends itself to the legend of Saint Veronica, and the Veil of Veronica.  Most sources trace my name to a version of Bernice.  Just between us, I’m very glad my parents never considered that because I don’t know that I could have lived with the nickname Berni.

Other bits of interesting Veronica related information:

  • The Veronicas is the name of one of my favorite rock bands from Australia.
  • Veronica is the name of genus of plant that I think is quite pretty.
  • Veronica was the name of the character played by Winona Ryder in the movie Heathers, and the name of a sorceress played by Monica Bellucci in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
  • Veronica is the title and heroine of a novel by Nicholas Christopher that I like.  (I have not read the other novel entitled Veronica by Mary Gaitskill, nor the children’s book Veronica by Roger DuVoisin.)

Is there any Veronica related trivia you think I should know about, or anything about your own name you’d like to share?

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