My Name is Muriel
“sparkling, shining, bright, sea”
I call this a selfie blog, it is about my name. The eldest daughter in the family were named after our 2 grandmothers, Lucille Anne, the second was given her name by father. He may have just liked the name Susan but I do know that his family had a favorite cow named Susie. Her middle name being Ella after my dad’s sister. Being the third child and my mother hoping it would be a boy, the name Patrick was picked out for me. Alas it was not to be. My first name, Muriel, was selected by my dad. The story goes there was pretty nurse that took the Greyhound bus on my dad’s (he was a bus driver) regular route. My second name Joan was given by my mother. It may have been chosen because my initials would be the same as her little sister Mary Jo.
The family pronounced my name mur + el instead of the more common MUR-e-ell. It was a difficult name for me to pronounce as I could not say my R’s, L’s. My name came out Me-Oh when I tried. I found out very late in life that my family’s pronounciation was the Irish version. (The Irish spelling is Muirgheal). It went well with my Irish last name Norris, which of course, I could not pronounce since it contained R’s and S’s. Note: The 4 siblings that followed were given common easily pronounceable names. Seeing my difficulty dealing with my name my mother suggested I switch to Joan. She failed to relate this to my teachers and our extended family so I was left with no option but to go forward with Muriel.
I learned the common English pronunciation from teachers and others who read my name before hearing me say it. As a result my public persona was different that my familiar persona when it came to my name. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins all knew by “Mur+el”.
There are very few of us Muriels around. I finally met my first one via phone when I worked in Chicago. I got a call from Enesco Giftware New York sales division. It went like this. Person on the other end: “Hello, This is Muriel” Me: “Yes, this is Muriel”. The air went dead and Muriel of New York hung up. We were both confused. Neither of us had ever encountered another with the same name. There are now a total of 61,000 Muriel’s in the US. That means meeting another is a 1 out of 5238 chance. Compare that for instance to my husband’s name Michael, where there is 1 out of every 75.
At American Greetings I was given the task of training the newbies in the Humourous Planning department how to create for the greeting card market. One of them, named Jim, was told he would be working under “Muriel”. His assumption was that I was a doddering old woman. He was surprised to find out I was still in my late 20s. According to “The Meaning of Names” the highest recorded use of this name (Muriel) was in 1923 in the state of New York with 691 baby girls. So Jim was not far off in his assumption.
There is no short version, no nickname. I eventually grew into the name and because I am an artist with a unique first and last name there is not doubt when I sign a piece of art which Muriel Fahrion created it. (The only one in the world, really!).
Late in my career I moved into management. Part of my fold was cadre of 75+ freelance artists, sculptors who I mostly talked to by phone. I introduced my self by my full name Muriel Fahrion (a coworker once commented that when my name came over the PA system it sounded like a chemical spill) then I would ask, “Do you know any other Muriels?” The answer was always “No”. I would follow with, “When I call I will just use my first name then”. My name is Muriel.
Here is a shout out to all the other 60,000 or so Muriel in the US!
Just for the fun of it links to ego surfing websites where you can learn about your name.