Make nice with nomenclature

I signed into my AOL Instant Messenger recently and got a bit of a shock. You see, I don't use my name, which is Pam, in my screen name. However, when it came up, the AOL Today Box popped up right along with it, saying, "Pam, make up your mind."

I thought, Geez, how does AOL/Time Warner know I have trouble making my mind up? And how did they know my name is Pam? Was it time to start wearing foil hats to ward off the government's devious plans to invade my brain?

I was curious as to what I was having trouble with, so I clicked on the link to read more about the difficulty I was having making decisions. I was hopeful there would be some useful information on how I could clear things up for myself.

I wasn't so lucky. Seems it was Pamela Anderson having problems making up her mind between her ex-husband Tommy Lee and her ex-fiancé, Kidd Rock. She appears to be seeing both of them. She also says that she feels "trapped in her body." After reading that sentence I was reaching maximum ICK Overload, so I stopped reading. For all I know, she also fears intimacy and eschews silicone, but I wouldn't count on it.

This isn't the first time my name has given me some problems. It's not like everyone has a nonstick cooking spray named after them. I do. Well, it wasn't named after me per se, but we do carry the same name. This has given me untold guffaws as people have delivered joke after joke to me about this cooking spray. Did I know that I come in butter flavor? Do I really keep buns from sticking? Chortle, chortle. Snort.

Pamela is actually a name that carries dignity. Its origin is English. In fact, it was invented in the 16th century by the poet Sir Phillip Sidney for use in his poem "Arcadia." He possibly intended it to mean "all sweetness" from Greek pan, all, and meli, honey. So my name invites the inference that I am sweet and honeyed. Which, of course, everyone that knows me would agree upon. If they know what's good for them. I am honeysweet. No, really I am. Shut up and agree with me. OK, that's better.

Some studies have shown that people consider women named Pamela to be stuck up. I took a very scientific poll of all the people in my house, and none of them thought I was stuck up. Of course, most of them call me Mommy and not Pamela, so that might have skewed my results a bit. Plus, I am the keeper of all things edible in their lives, so that may also have swayed their votes in my favor, as the poll was taken near the dinner hour.

My mother once told me that I was named Pamela after a complete stranger. When she was pregnant with me, she saw a mom and dad chasing after an adorable toddler and calling, "Pamela! Come back here, Pamela!" Mom liked the name so much that she bestowed it upon me.

Names tell you a lot about a person, and I truly believe that we have a visceral reaction to some names. Here are some names I'm glad my parent's didn't hear being yelled at a toddler during my fetushood.

Bertha. This name derives from a Germanic element meaning bright and famous. It's also connected to German legends about a character that sneaks into children's nurseries and rocks them to sleep. I'm afraid now the association would be for a character that sneaks into a bakery and eats her weight in cheesy poofs.

Monica is possibly from the Latin moneo, meaning advisor. That was all before the Clinton White House changed it to another meaning entirely.

'Abla is an Arabic name meaning full-figured. I decided that since I already have the full figure, I didn't need the name to point it out for me. A seventh-century poet, Antara, dedi-cated much of his poetry to a woman named 'Abla. Proving once again that I was born into the wrong century.

Rumsfeld: a name derived from an old Irish drinking song. Rum and feld, meaning to drink rum and field ques-tions from paparazzi regarding war. This also explains some of the answers we've heard about the Iraqi war.

Saddam, if said correctly, means Satan. It also has an obscure interpretation, "has bigger ego than brains."

I guess my name is just something I'll have to live with. The difficulty I have making up my mind between my two lovers is ... er ... oh yeah. Not my problem after all.

Freelance columnist Pamela Troeppl Kinnaird appears in the News the first and third issue of every month. Reach her at

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