Having an unusual name like “Evany” means that meeting someone for the first time can be fraught with pitfalls. “Ebony?” is a favorite misstep, and it’s always accompanied by a small little frown of confusion…because what kind of parent would give such a pale child such an ironic name?
Almost as popular is spontaneously breaking into song: either “Ebony and Ivory” or its much grimmer cousin, “Evany and Ibory.” People always end the song with a little knee slap and an “I bet you get that all the time!” And, like all the Roxannes and Glorias and Lolas before me, I just smile and nod, smile and nod.
One guy started off a job interview by asking me who at my company was “Evanyest”, like there was some kind of continuum of Evany, which is kind of an awesome concept. (I totally offered him that job.)
I also had a random couple track me down over the internet and email me that they were considering naming their soon-to-be-born baby “Evany,” and what did it feel like to have such a name, was it a blessing or a burden? And I responded with a very long email full of my many theories about the cruelty of childhood, and how having a weird name definitely leaves you open to school-yard mockery—everyone used to call me “Ebenezer Scrooge,” which was an odd mock for third graders to make about another third-grader, that I was cheap?—but even so, I believed that kids will make fun of you no matter what, and in the absence of a weird name, they just move on to something far more damaging, like your slightly-larger-than-average nose? So really, giving your kid an easy-target name like “Evany” is a service. Don’t you see?
The dad actually wrote back to say that he just could not stomach knowingly cursing his child with something that was going to be fodder for taunts, however mild or Dickensian, and anyway they wound up having a boy, so yeah, nevermind.
But my all-time favorite response to my name was what an old boyfriend’s mother said when he first told her about me. First she said, “Ebony? Is she black?” Paul clarified that no, it’s actually “EVany, with a V.” And Judy, she said, “Oh. Is she vlack?”