Michele By Any Other Name…

I had quite a shocking thing happen to me  a couple of days ago.

I realized I have been living a lie.

Many years ago Paul McCartney wrote a beautiful song that, for years, I have joked was written for me. When I was younger, WAY younger, I almost believed it, but it was always fun to say and I had a different story around it anyway as I got older.

You see, my name is Michele. I have been Michele since that song came out. Not that my name wasn’t Michele before that, but it was, and is legally, spelled Michelle….notice the extra L. However, in 1965, when Rubber Soul was released, I was so enamored of the song that I decided, in all of my pre-teen wisdom, that my name should be spelled the French way, the Beatles way. With only one L.

So I started writing my name that way on everything. I declared to my parents that hence forth I would be Michele, not Michelle. School had to adapt . I don’t really remember if they did or not; I don’t remember any big flap so they probably didn’t even notice. It was an early affectation. It was not the only early affectation I would adopt because of the Beatles. Often my friend Susie and I would put on British accents, Liverpudlian actually, and speak to each other loudly through bathroom stalls in public restrooms. “ay mate, could yer pass the toilet paper ovah ‘ere?”(we usually couldn’t sustain it for much longer than the time needed to pee and wash hands). I can’t even imagine, looking back, how truly awful those accents must have been, but we did it. A lot.

Anyway, this story,about changing my name is the truth, and I have told it many times over the years, usually quite voluntarily, offering it up because it is so silly and I was so serious about it. After all of these years I, of course, have grown quite fond of Michele (one L) and, except for an occasional legal document, that is what I use.

Fast forward to 2 days ago, when my friend Christy asked me to contribute to a new blog idea she had about choosing 6 songs to describe your life. It sounded fun and, quite frankly daunting, as 60000 would be a more likely number, but a few songs just jumped into my mind so I said I’d attempt it. One of the songs was, of course, Michele. I thought I would briefly add the story and be  “evah so sloitly” amusing.

I felt I needed to remember the exact year that the song came out and set out on a google search. I  got a lot of hits answering the question of date…1965. What I didn’t expect, what  absolutely blindsided me, was the fact, the FACT!, that in every reference to the song the name is spelled Michelle. That’s right, two LL’s.

How did I get it so wrong? This essential story of my life, one I had told over and over with complete sincerity and self-deprecation was a lie, completely  and fundamentally wrong. In 1965 I changed my name for absolutely no reason! And I have lived with one less L for almost 5 decades, none the wiser. I felt so, I don’t know, stupid? Duped? But if I was duped, who by?   Sure i could blame it on McCartney, but really I had only myself to blame. I didn’t do the proper research somehow got it in my head that a French Michele had only one L, and American one 2, and I so wanted to be a French Michele.

Now I want to fact check all the old stories I tell to myself and on myself. Or maybe not. Some of them are pretty  damn good.

I will have to live with the whole Michele/Michelle debacle, but I intend to stay true to my other memories, whether true or not. No more upsetting the applecart of personal myth and memory.

Michele. That’s me, my choice,and I am sticking to it for all the wrong reasons.



Add yours →

  1. These are totally random thoughts but i need to type them out before my kids wake up – If it wasn’t for my journals, I’d never trust my memory of anything! I have a Hello Kitty journal from when I was 10 where I recorded the name of a man who abused me and with no one else to corroborate it, I would’ve always wondered if it really happened. Just yesterday I was telling my mom about how I’ve always been afraid of a tree falling on me because of the tree we had in our front yard growing up. She insisted there was no tree and that it was a false memory. Then my sister remembered the tree I was talking about, which fell during a storm one year. I was so relieved that I hadn’t made it up in my mind! So I can totally understand how strange it must feel to find out that the story of your name isn’t what you always believed (now it’s even more interesting than it was!). Another random factoid, in high school I started spelling my name Kehren, which means something in German (I forget what) and for those brief years, I was someone else. Everyone just went along with it like it was no big deal. I LOVE the new look of your blog, by the way. Time’s up. Gotta go!

  2. ah, the new look…
    i just needed a change and i keep getting attract to these minimalist ones so i figured i’d throw caution to the wind and do something wild ( and free ones, i like the free ones!). It feels weird to me but i’m gonna redo my blog roll and categories and see what happens.

    This whole thing really was kind of shocking to me..such a long held surety. Thanks for saying it’s ore interesting, I guess it is. And yes, the line between what really happened and didn’t, what maybe I just exaggerated and then become the “truth”…interesting. I think a lot of that cannot be proven, but it is giving me something to think about.

    thanks of the comment Kehren!

  3. Funny MicheLe! I also had a less interesting, but similar story about where I went to kindergarten. I always said I went to Jefferson school for kindergarten because the grade 1-6 school I went to didn’t have a K program at that time. The city closed the school several years ago and a couple of years ago I got involved with a group to turn the school into a community center. I was telling everyone how I’d gone to school there for my first year and the K room was down in the basement. I was eager to see it again…..only it turns out that the building has no basement. Like you, I was stunned. How could that be!?!? I could see the rooms in my mind and had NO doubt about my story, but the facts certainly proved otherwise. I like your story better though and the reason you changed it remains the same, even if your facts at the time were wrong. Maybe you based it all on somebody else’s typo! Haha.

  4. runningonsober March 9, 2014 — 5:08 pm

    Well like Jennie wrote over at Words today: I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. You will always be Michele to me … and he and we. 🙂

  5. #1. LOVE the new site. Super cute.
    #2. KEEP the original story, now you just have an even more self-deprecating addendum!

  6. Okay. I rest my case…. :-0

  7. Ha! Stick with that story,
    And if anyone points out that the song has two Ls, just tell them that the Beatles typo’d it.

  8. Good morning, Michele (with one L!)
    So glad I finally found your site after crossing paths last week 🙂
    Confession: I got to see Christy’s draft of your song list this morning and am grinning ear to ear. I have song envy and want to claim all of yours as mine…especially “Michelle” from the Beatles. As you mentioned, that was a very popular name ‘back in the day’ and in our class of 13, two of us were named Michelle.
    So many times I wanted to change from from two L’s to one just to be different.
    Loved reading this, looking forward to Christy’s post this morning (LOVED your stories) and am eager to read more of your page.

  9. Not to add oil on top of troubled waters – I thought when I saw the song on the 6 six song list that it was actually released by Herman’s Hermits… wrong. The Overlanders (who?) apparently had the single hits with it in the UK and USA as the Beatles did NOT release it as a single… I remember this as it was on the Pye label I think – whatever it was not on Parlaphone, i.e. couldn’t have been the Beatles.

    So was it The Overlanders version you fell in love with? It is all far too long ago to remember or probably worry about now… 😉

    • omg….

      no, it was the Beatles..Rubber Soul album. Definitely the dulcet tones of my one true (at the time) love Paul McCartney singing to me, and me alone. The Beatles may not have released it as a single but it was played all the time off the album then.

      I love your research tho! I one time git drunk in a bar in New York with Herman( Peter Noone), just as an aside. I was drinking and can’t remember if he was, in case he’s a life-long tee-totaler. Fun conversation though, what I can remember.
      Never heard of the Overlanders though, I’ll check that. out

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