*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
My name is Tracey. I don't care if you spell it Tracy or Tracie or Tracee. I don't care if you call me Stacy. Or Stacia. Or Theresa.
Some people get upset if you get their names wrong. I just shrug it off.
My mother is one of those people who dislikes being called by the wrong name. Her name is Maria. It isn't Mary or Marie.
"Maria is mostly used by Catholics," my mother told me. "Marie is used by Italians. Mary is used by a lot of Protestants." She said a Catholic nun taught her this in the 1950s when she was studying for her First Holy Communion.
I didn't ask my mother what the Italians do if they are also Catholic or Protestant. Which takes precedence? Is it Mary or Marie or Maria?
The name Maria is so popular among Portuguese Catholics such as my mother that we once knew a man named Joseph Maria, but that was uncommon. Yes, Maria was his middle name, not his last name.
I have four aunts on my father's side, and they are all named Maria. My mother and her two sisters are all named Maria. That's a lot of Marias, and that's why it always bothered her when her older sister insisted on calling her Marie.
My mother has known several other people who called her Mary or Marie, but you'd think her own sister would know better. Especially when her own sister was also named Maria. How difficult could it possibly be to get it right?
Sadly, my mother's sister passed away.
My mother will never be able to ask her why she insisted on calling her by the wrong name, but she's still salty about it. "It's literally her name, too," my mother told me. "Or at least it was. How difficult could it have been to remember? Sometimes I think she did it on purpose just to annoy me. If that's the case, then it worked."
I'm not sure why my mother and I are at opposite extremes when it comes to people incorrectly using our names. It bothers her a lot; it bothers me not at all.
Maybe it's because I use her name when calling in an order for takeout or delivery. It's just easier to say Maria than to have the order taker ask how to spell Tracey. Of course, there are some who will just spell it the most common way, Tracy. There are also people who will think I said Stay.
As I said, Maria is less complicated. Let them write that on my pizza box. I'm also not opposed to answering to Marie or Mary if it means being able to pick up my pizza more quickly.
What do you think? Does it bother you if strangers get your name wrong? How about family members? Comments are welcome.