I was named Anna Kathleen Mitchell at birth by my Father. At the time names like Brenda and Debbie were popular and my Mom wanted to name me Debbie. But my Dad prevailed and I left the hospital Anna Kathleen. Families being what they are and mine being stubborn and very opinionated, I was soon called Kathy by aunts, uncles, grandparents, Mom and even Dad. Actually my Dad called me Katie and frequently Katie My Darling. But that’s a whole other story.
When I started kindergarten I was called Kathy. All throughout my elementary school years I was Kathy. Then came the fall of 1973 when I started middle school. There is a huge difference between elementary school and middle school. More kids, more teachers, more classes. The changing of classes is a huge deal when you’re in the sixth grade. Its even more difficult when you are a shy, introverted young girl. That first week each teacher said if you go by another name instead of your given first name to let them know. Like if they called you Robert but you wanted to be called Bobby. Or Deborah and you wanted to be called Debbie. Shyly after each class I let the teach know that I was called Kathy not Anna. They happily changed it and when roll was called I was called Kathy. All my new friends starting calling me Kathy
Another thing happened during the year of 1973. I started my period. I think for girls this is one of the most traumatic things that happens in your young life. Its scary, gross, and exciting all at the same time.
Nearly 40 years ago we didn’t have the choices that we have today in feminine products. Our only choice was a 10 inch long, 3 inch wide, and 2 inch thick thing. With long tails on the end that I don’t even want to talk about. No slim, discretely folded and wrapped things that you could tuck away in your 11 year old, sixth grade going purse.
My mother’s solution to this problem was a cigar box. Yes, I said a cigar box. I was instructed to take this box with the shameful objects in it and put them in my locker. When the dreaded event arrived I took the box to school and put it on the top shelf in my locker.
There was a boy who had the locker next to mine. He happened to notice the box in my locker. So all the time he was asking me, bugging me, “What’s in the box?” Trying to grab it. Finally one day he was able to swipe it out before I could get the door shut. He opened it up and looked and inside. At first his face turned a little red and then he just laughed and laughed and laughed. I was mortified and wanted to die.
This particular boy was in several of my classes and in some sat right behind me. Now when the teacher called roll and got to my name, he would whisper in my ear Kathy Kotex. He called me Kathy Kotex all the time. Every time he looked at me he was smirking and laughing, whispering to people. At the age of 11, I could have just died. Now at the ripe old age of 49 I would simply tell him where to stick it.
So I had to go to the teachers again after each class and tell them that I had decided I wanted to be called Anna. Then tell my new friends my real name is Anna, Kathy was just a nickname. My old friends from elementary school probably thought I flipped my lid. I never told anyone about this.
So this is why I am Anna today and not Kathy. I’ll answer to either, just please don’t call me Kathy Kotex.