Wednesday 2 July 2008

Una rosa by any other nome..

Middle names. Some of us have them some us us don't. They serve no purpose and they rarely get used. Just a waste of time and humiliation if you ask me.

I have a middle name. It has caused me grief in Italy.

Firstly there are very few Italians who have a middle name. I actually cannot think of one of my Italian friends who has one. Most of them have one name and one surname (or a two part surname like bel ragazzo without the hyphen which in itself causes me grief..but we are talking about middle names today.)

On most forms in any country they ask for your first name and last name. In Australia and the UK I always just wrote Leanne Surname. I never bothered with the middle bit - there was no need. No one cared. Even when showing them my identification which states my middle name, no one wants you to put this on every form.

Well in Italy it seems they do.

Two years ago I was here in Rome and had to extend my Italian passport. I barely spoke a word of Italian and felt like a fraud pushing past all the poor foreigners patiently waiting out front of the police station to gain entry to apply for their work permits. Red faced I finally left after spending ages filling in a simple form which - due to my limited knowledge of Italian - I could not understand. Thankfully there was a kind lady on hand to assist me.

A week passed and I waited for the passport...then another week...then - NO I did not wait another week, I am not that patient! I went back to the police station and pushed pass the foreigners yet again to be met be a not so kind lady who found my application form and asked me what my name was.

'Leanne Surname' I said.

No she said. What is your name?

I was confused. Perhaps she could not understand my accent so I said more clearly Leanne Surname.

No! She was getting impatient now.

Thankfully my kind lady came into the office and remembered me and it turns out that my name is not Leanne Surname but Leanne middle name Surname.

Are you sure that is your correct name?
She asked with a strange look.

Si si I say with a sigh.

So I had neglected to put my middle name on the form. Opps.

So this time we filled in the form with my middle name which they put like a double first name with no hyphen. Ok, so passport came and all was good.

Ever since then I have always used my middle name, but this always, always causes me grief.

Why you ask? My middle name is MICHELE which is pronounced Michelle with one L. The grief bit is that in Italy Michele is the boys name for Michael. So I have a boys middle name.

To make matters worse in Italy the write their names backwards on forms. So when it says name they write SURNAME FIRST NAME. Ok if you have 2 names. I went to get my blood tested a few months ago and they called out 'MICHELE SURNAME LEANNE.' When I walked in - an obvious girl they looked up at me 'Michele?' 'Si, si sono io.' Then I have to explain I do not have a boys name and that Michele is actually my second name and it is pronounced Michelle as I am Australian.

I went to the post office a few days ago and wrote my name backwards (as you do) and then he looked up at me and asked me whose account it was as I was obviously not the boy Michele. 'Si, si sono io....' And so the story goes.

I really have to ask my parents why they gave me a boys middle name. To make matters worse my family KNOWS Michele is an Italian boys name. MY FAMILY ARE ITALIAN! My maternal grandfathers name is Michele! (Did mum want me to have his name maybe?)

So now, I live my life in Italy with a boys name. Well second name but no one here understands that.


Romerican said...

YESSS, I have the same issue with my middle name here in Italy! I never use it in US, nor do I care to but when I got citizenship & residency they INSISTED it become a part of my "first" name.
It's such a hassle I was actually going to change my name legally (meaning just removing the middle name) so that I wouldn't be forced to use it... but apparently it's a HUGE hassle to legally change one's name here.
Oh well =(

Rosa said...

Poor you ! Why don't parents THINK before they name their kids!

My son's high school Italian prof's first name is 'TRIFONE'- can you imagine the ribbing he must have got at school !

Lots of boys in Italy have Maria tacked onto their name (GianMaria etc) and what about Andrea in English/Italian!

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Romerican,
I am so glad you feel my pain of having an annoying middle name. And when they add it to the first name even though it is not your first name!

Hi Scintilla,
I came across and Luigi Maria the other day and thought 'poor man' having Maria as his second name. There are so many of them...what are people thinking?

Kataroma said...

My Dutch husband also has the middle name Maria. I think it's just a Catholic thing.

My middle name is my mum's surname. Causes no end of confusion but not nearly as bad as being called Michele - that's got to be tough.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Kataroma,
So Rene has a girls middle name! And your middle name is your mums surname - I like that idea however.