A lot of Robertas get the nickname Bobbi or Bobby. Not me. When I was in 6th grade I thought I’d like to be called Robbie. But I wasn’t the take-charge type. The best I could do was write Robbie as my first name on a school assignment. My teacher, Mrs. Simon, came after me perturbed. “Is your name Robbie or is it Roberta?! If it’s Robbie . . .blah, blah, blah.” I don’t remember what else she said. I went back to Roberta.
People don’t remember the name Roberta. They don’t even read it right sometimes when it is right in front of them. Most often people will call me Rebecca (starts with R, has three syllables, ends in A; makes sense). One day, though, I was called Rhonda. How’d they get that? Only two syllables. Oh, starts with R, ends with A. Got it.
I’ve met women named Roberta who don’t use it. They go by their middle name. Just yesterday I was exercising in a therapy pool and two women were in a discussion. One of them evidently is named Roberta, but goes by her middle name, the name I know her by. She hates the name Roberta. The other woman told her, “Well, it’s not your fault you got that name.” I just smiled to myself. I guess the woman named Roberta realized my name was Roberta and sort of apologized to me later. Why apologize? If you don’t like a name, you don’t like a name.
There are some famous Robertas. One in particular is Roberta Flack. Yay! I love her song, “Killing Me Softly.” It’s beautiful! I guess Joni Mitchell’s first name is Roberta, but she must not like it either.
So, my name is Roberta. I’m okay with it. I haven’t changed it. But for a long time now, my nieces and most of my family call me Berta. So I guess it’s been changed. But not by me. When I introduce myself, I still say, “Roberta.”