A little over a year ago, I decided that each Thursday I would answer questions submitted by my readers.
For some reason, though, over the summer, I sort of…quit. Not purposely; I just gradually tapered off. I always knew I would start it up again, though, so I have faithfully collected each and every reader question that has deserved its own post and filed them away for future reference. And that future is today.
Actually, no, the present is today; the future is tomorrow. But who can be bothered with such technicalities? [Well, I can, obviously, or else I wouldn’t have brought it up.]
But I digress.
The point is, I’m reviving the Archives of Our Lives Q+A. Starting right now.
Question, from Whitney: What does the P stand for in your name?
Answer, from me:
Let me begin with a bit of background information for those readers who might not know what Whitney is talking about.
When I reply to comments via email (or when I send any informal emails at all, for that matter), I sign my name like this:
CPSF. My initials. I’ve written about them before, about how important they are to me, but I’ve never addressed the “P” part of my name despite the fact that I am asked about it quite frequently.
So, it’s like this:
The “P” doesn’t stand for anything. I made it up.
I remember the day distinctly:
It was Junior year (Grade 11, Canadians). I was at a She-Rah Man Haters (i.e. girls only) party hosted by two of my awesome friends from high school. There was a sign-in book (although, come to think of it, I don’t know why we had to sign in for that party…was it for posterity’s sake? Lindsay, Chelsie, please enlighten me…), and as I picked up the pen to enter myself in the annals of She-Ra history, something inside me just…snapped. And instead of simply writing “Camille S—” and moving on with my life, I clutched the pen with my fist and scrawled boldly, “CAMILLE P. S–––.”
I took up two whole lines, and I don’t think I even apologised for my greed (sorry, guys!).
Anyway, I don’t know why I did it. It was not premeditated. I had never called myself Camille P. S— before, and I didn’t expect to call myself Camille P. S— ever again. I was purely living in the moment—possibly in the throes of teenage rebellion, for I had always been bitter that my parents did not see fit to give me a middle name—but I didn’t really think anything else of it.
Later that night, though, the hostesses were going through the ledger book, and when they noticed my misdeed, they asked me why I’d done it.
“I don’t know,” I confessed, ashamed. “It just sort of…flowed.”
I guess they thought it was funny. Who knows, maybe I thought it was funny myself—P is a funny letter, when you think about it. Either way, from then on, throughout the rest of my high school career, some of my closest friends would address me as “Camille P. S—.” Over time, I adopted the P for myself, and took to signing my notes, letters, and emails as —CPS. I liked it. It really did flow nicely.
Plus, I argued, why shouldn’t I be able to give myself a middle initial? My parents didn’t think I needed a middle name, because they wanted me to take on my maiden name as a middle name when I got married. But my maiden name is not a middle name—it doesn’t even come close to sounding like a middle name. Moreover, what if I had never gotten married? Then I’d just wander the earth middle-nameless for all of my days? That’s not fair. For seventeen years, I suffered the agony of simply crossing out the space for middle names on government forms, and I guess by Junior year I had had enough.
Now that I’ve matured (I use the word loosely), though, and I sign my emails as —cpsf, I’ve come to see a deeper meaning in it all:
C—The letter given to me by my mother, who put her foot down when my dad wanted to spell my name “Kuhmill.” (Thanks, mom.)
S—The letter given to me by my father, whose last name I will always bear with pride.
F—The letter given to me by my husband, whom I love so much that I didn’t even force him to hyphenate our last names like I would have liked, and…
P—The letter I gave myself, because I wanted to and I could.