I remember as far back as first grade (I had some issues in first grade, mainly due to a tyrant of a teacher, the Attention-Deficit Disorder that no one knew I had, and the fact that I could not, no matter how hard I tried, figure out how to do mathematics in any way, shape or form), wanting to change my name to “Lisa”. Lisa was a nice, normal name; the name of girls with dark blonde, wavy hair tied back with ribbons, and girls who wore fancy skirts and patent leather shoes. Lisa’s were always smart, they colored in the lines, they didn’t have trouble holding still, and they were very popular. The Lisa’s of the world had lots and lots of friends, and that’s who I wanted to be.
Much to my dismay, anger, and true bewilderment, my family didn’t buy into it, and the horrible teacher I had sent me to the school counselor to discuss my many “problems”. Side note- my mother was very pleased when the counselor informed both her and the teacher from Hell that I was not only a very “normal” child, but in many ways, gifted. You’d have thought this would have done wonders for me; made me live out the rest of my first grade year on a high note, but I think hearing those words from the counselor made my teacher angry and she hated me even more.
Let’s get back to the name. Since no one would call me “Lisa” when I was six-years-old, I knew I was stuck. I would always be Tammi. To make matters worse, in my opinion, not only did my parents name me Tammi (with an “i”, mind you), my middle name was Lynn. Tammi Lynn.
I love my mom. But here’s the issue I have with her argument about naming me-- She says my dad was so happy that she was pregnant with me, and when they were discussing names, he asked if I could be called “Tammi Lynn” if I was going to be a girl. He said he thought it was a beautiful name. (WTF?) Apparently, there was also a song and a television show or movie or something about a Tammy, as if that makes it all better.
At that moment, had my mom been at all on top of it, she would have stopped him right there and reminded him who was going to be carrying around the little bundle of joy for nine months and who was the one who’d have to push the full-grown fetus out of the smallest hole possible when the time came. She should have stuck to her guns and told Dad that there was “NO WAY IN HELL” he was naming their baby. Instead, my mom, being the sweet, caring, loving woman she always is, let the man name me. And so it was done; my fate was sealed.
Fast forward several years to the 1980’s. My dad enjoyed watching a television program called “Night Court”. One of the characters on the show, Dan, was a lawyer and a truly awful male chauvinistic pig. I’d sneak into the TV room from time to time while Dad was watching and take a peak. It never failed. Each time that character talked about one of his girlfriends, her name was Tammi, and she always had big boobs, frizzy bleached-blond hair, and I am now quite certain, I didn’t “get” it then, she was always a prostitute. The guy liked hookers, and more often than not, those hookers names were Tammi.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned to live with it. I have refused to watch the movie, “Ted”, not just because I think the idea of a stuffed, vulgar, talking teddy bear is completely stupid, but I know too much about the scene where the bear talks about his girlfriend. You know the one, don’t you? My husband was kind enough to forward the scene to me via email one day. It goes something like this…
The Mark Wahlberg character and the filthy Ted bear are discussing Ted’s new girlfriend and Mark is trying to guess the girlfriend’s name. Ted tells him that it is a “white trash” name. Mark begins to spout off names that are considered “white trash”. There are many- Brittany, Bambi, Ashley, etc., but he stops at the most white trash name of all (according to Mark and the Teddy)-- Tammi. They don’t stop there. They talk about what makes the name even more “white trash”, and that is the fact that the girl’s middle name is “Lynn”. Tammi Lynn. My name. Mother F**#&%&.
How is it possible that there’s a perverted, naughty, little talking teddy bear making millions at the box office discussing how white trash my given name is? It doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
I hesitated to write this blog post, because I didn’t want to make any of the other women out there who share my name upset. Maybe they like the name, and that’s OK. But it’s also my name, and I hate it, so I decided I wanted to write about it. Please don’t be offended. I didn’t name you. Blame your parents. I blame mine. I also blame my parents for not getting me an agent to manage what I was certain to be a lucrative acting career, back when I was ten years old, but that’s a story for another time.
I think this past year, a movie came out starring Melissa McCarthy called Tammy. Surprise- I haven’t seen it. I like Melissa McCarthy. I think she’s hilarious. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay money to see a movie called Tammy. There can be no good to come of that for me, I just know it.
Sometimes I will introduce myself to strangers and they will ask me if I’m “from the South”. The South of what, I think? South side of Indianapolis? No. I was born in southern Indiana, and I don’t think that area would really be considered “The South”. Maybe if I lived further south, I’d feel more “normal”, and less like people expect me to wrestle ‘gators in my spare time and wear cut off jean shorts to the barn dance. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, mind you. I just don’t do it because 1) I’m terrified of ‘gators (and most other reptilian-type creatures), and 2) I am not thin enough by any means to pull off a good pair of cut-offs. There are other Tammi’s out there whom I am sure look a lot better in those babies than I do. Most of them starred on that “Night Court” show in the ‘80’s, I’ll bet. 3) I am a terrible dancer, therefore I do not go to any dances in a barn or elsewhere.
Other times I will get into conversations about middle names, and when I tell people mine, they always do the same thing- they think for a few brief moments, look up toward the sky, then they chuckle. Yep. I know. Tammi Lynn. I get it.
Just for kicks, try googling my name- Tammi Lynn. Just check out what comes up on the Internet. I can’t do it; I blush every time. Let’s just say that some of those Tammi Lynn’s are up to no good. But they do look really good in cut-off jean shorts- most of them do, anyway.
I do hope that everyone who reads this post understands that I’m not really angry about all this. I do see the humor in it, and that’s why I’m poking fun at my name and myself. I don’t hate my parents. My dad probably thought Tammi Lynn was the most beautiful name he’d ever heard back when he was in his early 20’s, and ready to become an new father. There was no way he could foresee my name being used as a punchline for nearly every white trash joke in the book. My parents simply loved me and gave me a name they thought would stand up over time. My dad probably saw a little girl with blond pigtails, and a beautiful smile when he thought of what his Tammi Lynn would look like one day.
When I was probably about four years old, my grandfather bought a fishing boat, and guess what he named that thing? You got it, the Tammi Lynn. How’s that for redemption? I don’t really remember the boat, but I’m told it was a nice one.
And there are some very famous women out there who share my name, I’m sure. How about Tammy Wynette? Tammy Blanchard is an actress, and there was Tammy Faye Baker. Let’s move on from that one, shall we?
So, for me, and all the Tammi Lynn’s of the world (however you might spell it), it’s time to march forward and be proud of all we have accomplished and everything we will do from here on out. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m ready to tease my blond hair, put on my push-up bra, and get out there and tackle the world. Come join me, won’t you?
No names have been changed in this blog post to protect the innocent.
Thanks for listening.
Love, Tammi Lynn :)