• When I was a kid my name was the hardest for my classmates to spell. 
  • I got annoyed when someone would mispronounce my name or just use a random nickname. 
  • Now as an adult, I appreciate my name much more. 

Growing up, my name — Courtenay — was usually the most difficult in my class. Teachers would pause and stumble on it, and no one knew how to pronounce it (Courtenay rhymes with Fort Lee), spell it, or how many syllables it had (two).

I longed for an easier storybook name like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Laura from Little House on the Prairie instead of one with almost every vowel in it.

Most of my schoolmates had names like Kim, Kathy, or Amy that would easily fit within the bubbles on our yearly Iowa Basic Skills test. With nine letters, mine never fit, and I'd often have to leave off the last couple of letters, which was embarrassing and made my name look even weirder.

Of course, other kids poked fun. I was subjected to playground nicknames I didn't like — Corky and Corny — and mispronunciations by people who honestly had no idea where to start — Coteny, Curtney, or Courtnae.

My mom wanted an original name for me

My mother and her siblings had all been named after her dad's friends, and she'd wanted something original for me. Around the time I was born, she saw that movie industry exec Jack Valenti had named his daughter Courtenay and liked the sound and spelling of it. My dad preferred Lisa, but the closest he got was choosing my middle name, Lynn.

Ironically, I've used the name Lisa many times over the years when placing an order or putting my name on a waitlist. People understood right away what I was saying, and I didn't have to spell or repeat it. Half the time I use my real name, the other person thinks I'm saying Britney. It's OK, I answer to all of it.

Once "Friends" came along and Courteney Cox became a household name, it got a bit easier. My name was now in the lexicon of popular culture. Soon, other Courtneys appeared: singer Courtney Love, actor Courtney Thorne-Smith, and, a few years later, reality star Kourtney Kardashian. Now it's much more popular.

Still people don't spell my name right

People rarely spell my name right because they don't know if it starts with a C, K, or Q. I once had someone spell it as Quart-Knee, which was phonetically correct and led to my Facebook friends jokingly calling me "Q" for years afterward. I'm impressed and touched when someone takes the time to spell my name correctly, and it's made me hyper-aware of spelling others' names right. It's a small thing that makes a big difference. People notice.

Several of my college friends, along with my Filipino mother-in-law, shortened my name both in text and aloud to just Court. I like it and consider it a term of endearment.

Because I always had to spell and repeat my name, I wanted my own kids to have short, simple ones. If I'd had a girl, we would have named her Ava — a memorable moniker using only two letters. Perhaps name complexity skips a generation. My sons both have one-syllable names.

When I was younger, I didn't appreciate my uncommon name, but now I do. I like that it's a little complicated, just like me. I've only met one other person who spells her name like mine — another writer, in Portland, born the same year. Our mothers were on the same wavelength.

I once hoped that I might marry someone with a short, easy last name, but it was not to be. I married a guy with a three-syllable Polish last name with lots of consonants, including a Z. On the bright side, it makes Courtenay look like a cakewalk.

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