About my name

by Cam


My mother says she named me for a cousin she admired for being independent and adventurous. In the fifties or early sixties, when my mom was a teenager, this woman had moved from Oklahoma to California and had married a black man: impressive. And she was thinking of the actor Patricia O’Neal, and of advice of the time, the mid sixties, to give daughters sober names that could carry them into professional careers.

It’s a pretty name, I think. Patricia sounds like spray from a waterfall, wind in a cornfield, a whispered secret.

But hey. I think my parents had no idea what kind of girl they were giving birth to. More and more I’ve felt my name doesn’t say who I am. And just when I meet new people, when I want to let them know my true nature in that moment of first impression, I have to slow down and enunciate Pa-tri-sha.

Lots more fun to say CAM! See ay em!

People will ask Cameron? and I say no, short for Camille.

Just cause I like the name Camille. Sounds like come ‘ere.

So I call myself Cam. The piece of a mechanical linkage that transforms rotary into linear motion. Or according to my brother, the part that controls how the engine breathes.

My mom calls me Trish, my brothers call me Pat, my old friends mostly call me Patricia or Patty. Call me whatever you want. Just don’t call me late for lunch.