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.