My Dutch Colleagues Call Me Cherry Mae

Yes, I have two names: Cherry Mae. I am still fighting over the thought if I like my name or not, or if I love it or not, because I always thought that I don’t really fancy it. Cherry Mae. My parents should have just chose in between “Cherry”, or just “Mae.” The name sounds so sweet, so girly, so child-like. Child-like, that is me, yes. Sweet, I think I am as sweet as cherry. Girly, a little girl, or a cute girl – hmmm, not really me.

I was heading through the comfort room when my colleagues started calling my name: “Cherry Mae! Cherry Mae!” I looked at them and said to not call me “Cherry Mae!” And as the law of attraction dictates, they went on calling me “Cherry Mae”. Then we heard our Supervisor asked, “Who is Cherry Mae?” Haha!

I remember I even wished that my name starts with the letter “J” or that I was named differently. Just not Cherry Mae.

They call me “Cherry” at work, and the friends that I had accumulated over the years – after I left the city where I was born, Zamboanga, to go work in another city in the Philippines.

When I was growing up, my petname (nickname, alias) was Mae-Mae. My family and relatives calls me Mae-Mae until now. My siblings and younger cousins in Zamboanga calls me “Ate Mae-Mae.” My siblings and younger cousins in Iloilo calls me “Ate Che.” (I am the eldest among the cousins from both my Mamang’s and Papang’s side – my Parents were both the eldest among them siblings). My mother is from Zamboanga and my father from Iloilo.

I like “Mae-Mae.” It brings back so many happy and sweet childhood memories.

When I was already starting school, my teachers and classmates used to call me “Mae”. When I went to High School, my teachers and friends called me “Viejon.” My adviser in my Second Year in High School called me “Bihon.” He even asked one time “How do you really pronounce your last name? Everytime I call you I become hungry.” (Bihon is a form of rice noodle in Asia. I think the most common term is Mihon/Meehon. Bihon is how we call it in the Philippines). Anyway, going back, I think it was like a sign that we were starting to move up the ladder of adulthood when people starts calling you using your Family Name, or so I thought. When I was in the University, those closest to me used to call me “Mae” and my classmates, acquaintances and professors called me by my last name. I also worked before a a Student Assistant at the Cashier’s Office at Western Mindanao State University. Everyday, I come across at most 5 students also bearing my same name. So if in a day I see 5 Cherry Mae’s, multiplied by 26 days in a month, then that will be more or less 131 of us Cherry Mae’s at school!!

I used the petname “Mae” until that time that I worked in Zamboanga on 2003. September 2003 found me switching to “Cherry” as my nickname because, back then, I met 3 girls in the training with the same petname “Mae/May.” It took me weeks, or even months, I think, to adjust to the new name. Eveytime somebody calls one of the ‘Mae’s/May’s’, I would always be one of them to turn my head. Luckily, there was only one “Cherry.” Lucky me.

I remember that everytime my Lola (Grandmother) was mad at me before, she will call me “Cherry Mae.” Or if one of my aunts or other Lola’s were also upset with me, they call me “Cherry Mae.” Or when I pissed off my mother, she will also ‘scream’- “Cherry Mae!”

Now my Parents-in-law calls me “Mae.” My friends and colleagues call me “Cherry.” My Armand calls me “Sweety” and Zoë is supposed to call me “Mama” but calls me “Ya-ya-ya-a-nge-nge-nge” instead.

And now, some of my Dutch colleagues are calling me “Cherry Mae.” I tell them not too because it is just too long.

Maybe I love my name after all.

Do you?

Note:
“Ate” is big sister in Filipino.
“Lola” is Grandmother

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