Yes, it’s true! My name is Muddy…and it’s not a typo.
It’s pronounced “Muddy”, as in Muddy Waters, the great American blues musician, or as in the soggy mud pit our backyard sinks into during the rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s definitely not pronounced “Moody.” People call me that a lot, as if they think “Moody” is less objectionable than “Muddy.” As an adult woman with a healthy amount of hormones and emotions, I can tell you it never feels good to be referred to as “Moody!”
I love the name Muddy! It’s simple: five letters and two syllables. It’s common in the English language, although not traditionally as a way to refer to someone. (Unless you’re covered head-to-toe in mud, which typically, I am not.) I never had to go by “Muddy K.” in school and most people remember my name the next time I see them.
The most difficult part of my name is the explanation.
If you happen to be a Lisa or a Jane, your introductions might go something like this:
YOU: Hi! My name is Lisa!
NEW FRIEND: Hi Lisa! Nice to meet you!
I, however, get this:
ME: Hi! My name is Muddy!
NEW, PERPLEXED FRIEND (NPF): What?
ME: It’s Muddy.
NPF: I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that. Maddie?
ME: No, Muddy. It’s spelled M-U-D-D-Y.
ME: No…Muddy, as in Muddy Waters, the great American blues musician.
We then segue into Part 2 of the Name Conversation:
NPF: Your parents must have really disliked you.
My parents are many things, but they are not famous actors or rock stars. I was born long before the Apples and Rumers and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince came along. Naming a child “Muddy” on purpose wasn’t an option.
On the contrary, I’m sure they are a bit horrified that the beautiful name they so carefully chose for their first-born child has been displaced by Muddy.
I don’t mind explaining how I got the nickname Muddy, but there are times I wish people could just hear my name and roll with it, like they do in To Kill a Mockingbird. Jean Louise Finch is called Scout. Do you know when Harper Lee explains why Scout is her nickname? Never. Not once. It just is. People accept it and move on.
Perhaps I need to accept that I’m not a character in a Harper Lee novel, and that the name Muddy demands an explanation. After all, I’m the first one to interrogate another person when I hear they have an unusual name. However, I view that person as a potential kindred spirit. For example, I’m sure when Blue Ivy gets older, she and I will have a lot to talk about.
This is how I got my nickname:
Muddy is short for Maria-Elena, the Spanish equivalent of the Southern style of having two separate names strung together as one, like Sally Sue or Betty Lou. (I added the hyphen because I don’t live in the South, so people are not as willing to accept that it’s meant to be pronounced together. It has not worked as well as I had hoped!) It’s a long name—ten whole letters!—and difficult to pronounce if Spanish is not your native language. With the Spanish pronunciation, it doesn’t sound so much like Ma-ree-a-E-lay-na as it does Ma-dee-a-lay-nah. With the ‘D’ sound in there, it converts to the much shorter, much easier to pronounce Muddy.
If you’re ever bored, hop on iTunes and search for Maria Elena. You can listen to it pronounced repeatedly in a song format. Certain elderly men familiar with the song enjoy serenading me with it when they hear my full name. The next time that happens, I’ll let you know so you can catch the live version. It’s lots of fun!
So…now you know. There’s no need to be embarrassed, or to call me “Moody” to try and soften the blow. My name is Muddy, and I love it!