I’m Sorry, Could You Spell That For Me?

Twenty years ago, Papa Polka Dot and Mama Polka Dot had their first child. It was a truly joyous occasion (or so I’m led to believe.) Then came the next step. What are we going to name this child?

They decided on Aoife. A name meaning beauty, joy and radiance. One of the most popular baby girl names at the time. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, actually.

In Ireland, having an Irish name is not a problem. Everyone can pronounce it. E-fah, Simple, familiar, and life continues smoothly.

Bringing me abroad is a different story.

The earliest problem with my name I can remember is my holiday in Tenerife with my family. I was nine, and a bona fide member of the Kids Club (I had the T Shirt and everything.) One of the supervisors was from Galway. No bother. ‘Shur my sister’s name is Aoife, it’s a beautiful name!’ The other was a native to the island, and had no family member to compare my name with. For an entire fortnight, whenever the Chica was working, I was referred to as ‘Ifa’ and my name was spelled as such.

Then came Australia. Entering the country was eventless. Leaving, not as much. After a three day visit to friends of the family in Sydney, we headed west for Perth. Passports were checked at the desk. ‘So, that’s a ticket for Papa Polka Dot, Mama Polka Dot, Baby Polka Dot . . . and, I’m really sorry, I can’t pronounce the other name.’ Guess what the other name was.

I am clutching straws that since Una ‘the Irish wan from The Saturdays’ Healy named her child Aoife, my days as a nameless being are behind me. One can dream.

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