Anneke Poppy Rose Wortman.
What’s in a name?
A lot really.
Righto, time to clear some confusion.
So my real name is Anneke Rose Wortman. Anneke for my Dutch ancestry, its meaning of “Little Anne” (Deb’s middle name is Anne) and mainly because Deb and Hank liked it. Rose after my aunty.
I wish Deb had double barrelled me. With her maiden name of Whatman, how bloody rad would that have been?! Two letters different, an alliteration sensation! What man? Wort man!
(I was told the “Whatman” originated because a great great great great great – I don’t know how far back in the lineage this was – grandma dumped their darling offspring on the doorstep of an orphanage. When the baby was discovered, the matron cried out, “What man is this!” and the Whatman family name was christened. I don’t know if this is actually the truth or not. But I’m owning it). (Oh yes, and the root of “Wortman” is “carrots”. Nice to know my last name didn’t sprout from a viral pimple).
When I was about 12 or so, I was at a friend’s house and her mother asked my full name. Her brother who was also present spluttered and choked on his mouthful of dinner. “I’m sorry, what’s your last name?” He enquiried.
“Wortman,” I responded quizzically.
“Get married as soon as you possibly can,” he advised, hootingly chuckling his head off. The bastard.
I’m sad to say this led to a few years of embarrassment over my last name. Whenever my full name was asked, I’d mutter the “Wortman”. On moving to Cambridge I hid my last name name for months and months, until a reliever teacher busted it out one form class. I was mortified! What would people think?! Oh, teenage troubles eh.
I’m ashamed now looking back. Wortman? Fuck yes, I own it. I’m proud of it. Perhaps too much so. Now when people ask my full name I saw “Wortman” in an almost challenging tone. I wouldn’t be surprised if my chest was thrust forward and my fists were up in a defensive stance. Don’t fuck with the Wort.
Now, there is a lot of bafflement when it comes to what to call me. The Poppy/Anneke debacle is one that perplexes many. When I was hustling three jobs I would get asked at least once a week if I was a twin; at each of the locations I was known as both and it led to a lot of confusion. Let me explain.
When I was a few months old, relatives from the Holland homeland came over to our New Zealand shores. They refered to me as “Poppy”, meaning “Little Doll”. And it stuck. From that day forth, to all immediate family I became “Poppy”, with “Anneke” only in use when I’d been naughty (same situation applies today. If Hank bellows “Anneke” I know I’m in for it. I’ve probably spilt water on the floor or something).
When I started school,”Anneke” mixed in a bit with my teachers using it. Friends called me either and I got used to answering to two names.
Moving to Auckland saw “Poppy” in use just on the home front. School, Brownies, various sports teams; it was Anneke, Anneke, Anneke. I slowly got used to only “Poppy” from my nearest and dearest, like a special nickname only those close would refer to me as. I felt really tied to it as well, because my great-grandad Max was referred to as “Pop”. Though I never met him (he died a few years before I graced the world with my presence) I feel like he and I are super strong kindred spirits with his journalism and passion for writing. I liked this little link to him.
Cue Cambridge. “Anneke” continued. I started feeling a bit sad because I much preferred “Poppy”. I felt a kinship with it, like it suited me more.
So third year Uni when I had my first journalism story published I had to make the choice. Poppy it was! I changed my Facebook details and took out the “Anneke” and whenever I was introduced to someone from that moment forth I was Poppy Poppy Poppy.
Don’t get me wrong; I like the name “Anneke”, I just don’t feel such an affinity with it. The majority of my best friends actually call me by it – Abbey, Steph, Beaver, Jon, Katie Moyle, Kim Dennis – so it’s not like a formal, full name only used by authorities and strangers.
Sometimes I think people shouldn’t be named until they’re about ten, and have developed personalities and traits that don’t necessary come from nuture. Now and then I’ll meet a person and on learning their name, I just can’t understand why they’re called it. I guess it’s more a personally conditioned thing, and the characteristics and attributes I associate with it just don’t fit the bill.
Anyway, point of this post is: call me what you want. Anneke, Poppy, either or. If you’ve known me for years as “Anneke” I don’t expect a sudden change. Same goes the other way around. When someone who’s always addressed me as “Anneke” suddenly turns to “Poppy” it feels really weird and fake.
I’ve started signing my name as Anneke Poppy Rose Whatman-Wortman, or APRWW. Clears the confusion. Or makes it worse. But I think the flowers inserted in takes away the visions of herbal cream and warts. And now carrots!