That’s Not My Name

may I offer you a card?

Hello. My name is Aimee. Pronounced like Amy, but not spelled like it. Spelled like it sounds. A-I-M as in the toothpaste with double E’s at the end. It’s French for beloved. Folks misspell it all the time.

My most free-spirited college BFF recently spelled it Amy online. Ouch. So did the kindest boy I dated in high school. Ouch, ouch.

Another good friend from high school spells it Amiee. So close I can’t bear to tell him. Well, now he knows. Makes me feel a little Pure Prairie League coming on. Or Counting Crows. Wow. Did you even know the Counting Crows rendition existed until this post? Neither did I.

I haven’t seen these people in years, they’re all married with kids, and the spelling of my name is not a priority in their lives at this time.

We joke about it. My college friend has agreed I can call her Betty if she can call me Al. I have to wonder if she’s lived in California too long.

My kindest high school boyfriend explained he was so concerned about spelling everything else right in his comment that he misspelled the most important part. Aw. Great save, man.

People in my not-so-distant past have a habit of misspelling it too. How excusable is that? And if you add my last name, there’s no end to the butchery of what my husband calls Americanized German.

Whetstine. Pronounced like a damp mug, a wet stein. Members of my own family still get it wrong and I’ve been married 15 years.

More than one person has asked me if Aimee was the name I was given at birth. No, I changed it when I was 15. My real name is Joleisa.

Yes, of course it was my birth name! Had you there, didn’t I? As the story goes, Amy was a popular name when I was born in 1970. My mom saw it spelled Aimee in a magazine. The rest is history.

And it’s not that unique. Lots of people spell it that way. Like Aimee Mann. Okay, that’s all I can think of right now, but there are lots of others I’m sure.


In a particularly legalistic time of my life, I wanted everyone to get it right. So I took preventive measures when I sensed a misspell coming.

“It’s A-I-M-E-E. Like the toothpaste with two E’s,” I said to my victims. “W-H-E-T-S-T-I-N-E. Like a damp mug, a wet stein. Get it?”

That was working really well until I overheard my then two-year-old, the verbal parrot, muttering as he played with his toy trains, “My name is Aimee. A-I-M-E-E. Like the toothpaste with two E’s.”

Maybe the correct spelling of my name doesn’t matter all that much. Maybe it’s a luxury like privacy.

Spelling doesn’t seem to count these days unless it’s your resume, Scrabble, or Scripps National Spelling Bee. It’s not like we’re being graded. Those pesky misspellings are harmless. They just sting a little.

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
      I have called you by name; you are mine. from Isaiah 43:1 NLT

hello my name is

If Toni Basil and Debbie Harry morphed, joined forces with a male J Crew model on drums and backup, entered The Matrix, and made a music video, you’d get The Ting Tings’ That’s Not My Name. Thanks to this dynamic duo for the song that inspired the post title when I first heard it on Muzak in FroYo. It rocks.

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37 Responses to That’s Not My Name

  1. My friends misspell my name all the time may be i have to write a similar article to stop doing it ;) love your style of writing so spontaneous:)

  2. Joleisa,

    I feel proud yet hesitant to say that I have never….never…gotten your name wrong. Now, I will hide and pray that I have actually backed that up. I must say that I have always loved your name as it is. Any mistakes I might have made then would be inexcusable. I hope you will forgive me if I have…lol


  3. Amy Howard

    As an Amy with the “commoner” spelling, I have always been very aware of your fancy name!! :)

  4. Christel

    What about Christel …..spelled as it sounds! Then throw in Oliphant ….this really messes people up!!!

  5. Krista

    I have to tell you, that when I met you at high school cheerleading tryouts, and I saw your name, I thought, “How cool!” Still think it’s cool! And I like the fact that you went old school with the Aim toothpaste reference for the correct spelling from folks – haven’t seen that brand in years! I got very used to hearing everything BUT Krista…Crystal, Kristie, Chris, Kristin. I even get Kirsten or Kirsta from time to time. And, I just answer to everything and don’t bother to correct them. The other day someone was on the phone with me, looking at my name and she called me Kristen probably half-a-dozen times. Those funky 70’s parents, that’s who I blame! =)

    • Alicia Norton

      Let’s not even go into your maiden name.

    • I found the Aim toothpaste on the very bottom shelf at Walmart. It’s been upstaged by Crest, Aquafresh and Colgate. They had one little stack of them left, just for me. I got the strangest look from a man in the toothpaste aisle as I squatted down to snap pictures of the boxes. Imagine that.
      As always thank you for reading and commenting. And thank you, Krista, for announcing to all my readers that I was involved with cheerleading. As you may have guessed, a post is brewing on that too. May be a while, but it’ll keep. You know what they say. Once a cheerleader… :)

  6. Aimee,

    Another great post, appreciate by a Jan-IS rather than a Jan-ICE or Jan-ET

  7. Michele M.

    My first name is commonly spelled “Michelle.” I like to tell people that there is no “hell” in Michele (although there is a little deviltry, perhaps)….

  8. Sandra

    SInce you were one of the first Aimee/Amys I ever knew, I never thought of your name as being different! You were always such a dynamic person, I can’t imagine you with the more common spelling. I pride myself on being a proper speller, if for no other reason than my friend Alicia above is usually reading what I have to say and I would be mortified if she discovered an error in my spelling. Proofreading and editing were probably my favorite jobs, before my current one, of course. That said, I did realize at the end of this school year that I had been misspelling the name of the teacher I worked with for two years. I had been spelling her last name “Vaughn” instead of the correct “Vaughan”. I had good intentions and “mom brain” I guess. I’ve paid my dues by hearing my name pronounced “Sondra” (nails on chalkboard), maiden name spelled “Coltrain” (glad to be rid of that one) and most people misspell “Sims”. What are you going to do?

    • People misspell Sims? How can you misspell Sims?! Please explain, Sondra, er, Sandra :). I bet you get a lot of Sondra because of the popular triad anchorwoman. And if I may remind you, you beat me in the fifth grade spelling bee. I misspelled address (yes, address), and the rest is a blur. Given the Vaughn/Vaughan incident, you may be slipping. Do I see my chance to move in for the win?

  9. Sandra

    Dang it! A typo right off the bat! Please don’t inform me of any other errors! :)

    • Okay, now I can’t even see the typo! Are you sure there is one or are you playing with my senses? lol. As I told Rodney above, thankfully most things are correctable on the blog. And we allow LOTS of typos here. There’s at least one in every new post. It’s a game. Get there before I do to find them.

  10. I hated when I was little and couldn’t find Erika with a k on personalized stuff (like hair clips & those little liscence plates for your bike) like everyone else could. Today it drives me crazy when people misspell my name on FB..really? It’s right in front of you! Maybe this is why I gave my kids very classic names, no crazy spellings! ;)

  11. Elizabeth Knehans

    My daughter’s name is Mari, pronounced like the common spelling,
    M-A-R-Y; it’s often mispelled, but more frequently butchered when pronounced … at the doctor’s office, on the first day of school, by telemarketers on the phone. It’s a sure sign that someone doesn’t really know you when they can spell or pronounce your name! I loved that name because of a song in the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, but with our Americanized German last name of KNEHANS, think of your knees and hands to pronounce that, I wanted the spelling to be a little more unique. I’ve been sarastically thanked over the years for doing this to her! With the middle name of Elizabeth (yes, she is my name sake), she is often called Marie, since many forms not leave much visual space. I find that funny considering pronounciation of the name is actually addressed in that song of old that I love so much.

    • Elizabeth, I love the spelling Mari. Beautiful. Elizabeth is my sister’s name and I love that too. Now Knehans, well, that’s another story. And another word picture: “Glad to meet you knee hands. I’m wet stein.”

  12. Elizabeth Knehans

    I meant can’t spell or pronounce your name — LOL!

    • No worries! In case you didn’t notice, typos are welcome here. Just blame it on the blasted new spell check technology that anticipates what you’re trying to type (often incorrectly). Ah, I think we’ve uncovered the seed for another post…

  13. Want to know what’s funny? My father-in-law spelled my name Aimee until just recently. Our 5 year anniversary is coming up and I just got A-M-Y on cards. I’m jealous that you’re an Aimee. It’s a lot more exotic than Amy. Enjoy your fancy spelling :)

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