The Look

I was not supposed to have my name. Instead of my legal first name, my nickname would have been on my birth certificate, but that was not meant to be. If that had been the case, what on Earth would my mother have called me when she was/is mad at me? (That sentence makes me laugh because because I only referred to her as “mother” when I am annoyed at her!)

Evidently my experience is not unique. I get knowing chuckles when at doctor’s office/ government agencies/ employment interviews – anywhere where “legal” names must be used – when I ask them to please call me “Tammy” … unless I’m in trouble. They all willingly agree, and most share what unhappy parents called them, or what they call their petulant child.

The use of “that” name kept me in line as a child and adolescent. Well, that and the look of death. When my friends first heard my excuse that I couldn’t do something because Ma (my not annoyed name for the woman who gave me life) would look at me, they thought I was kidding. That is until the day one of them received “the look”.

My mother looking unhappy
This is not "the look", but it is a precursor!

Ma was driving an excited bunch of us to see Peter Jennings speak – we were the speech and debate team, hence our enthusiasm for a newscaster – when someone in the back seat made a derogatory comment about homosexuals. Ma shot the look of death into the backseat. Unfortunately on the first attempt she hit an innocent bystander (bysitter, actually) next to the culprit. He paled. Ma apologized, then got the offender’s attention, and pulled out “the look” again. She paired it with an explanation about why his coment was not only inappropriate but also inaccurate. I don’t think he said another word the rest of the day.

My poor bystander friend did share the incident with others, mainly how I was serious about the severity of my mother’s look. I did use that excuse often as a teenager to keep me out of situations I didn’t want to be in. Ma was great, and she always backed me up when my friends would want confirmation that I couldn’t do something, if they were silly enough to ask.

Were any of you kept in line with your parents’ equivalent of “the look”? Do you still cower in fear if an authority figure calls you by your full first name PLUS your middle name? What do you do that your children will blog about in the future?

4 thoughts on “The Look”

  1. My mom chose my name because she thought it could not be made into a nickname. She was right. But she did have the look. My teen doesn’t know I read his twitter feed and it cracks me up when he writes on there about me:)

    P.S. It took me many tries to check that box as a human.


    1. Glad to know my mom isn’t the only one with “the look”! Did your mom throw in your middle name when angry?

      Thanks for letting me know about the box. What browser do you use? I’ll see what’s going on and try to make it better. Your effort to prove your “human-ness” is greatly appreciated!!


  2. Funny. I have two sisters – Candis and Michelle. When my mom got mad – she’d inevitably spout out all three names – getting to whomever she was mad at – last. And yes – accompanied by a look that could kill. CandisMichelleBarbara – all in one. LIke she was so angry she couldn’t get to it fast enough. That or – yes – you called it – the full name – Barbara Jo, in my case. Yikes. I’m sure there’s nothing I do that my kids will blog about in the future. (do I live in a naive state of denial and bliss or what?). They probably already do blog and tweet and facebook about my antics but I’ll just continue to live in my happy place. And I tell you what – if I find out – boy are they in trouble! Full names are gonna fly…..


    1. How funny! That so reminds me of my mom’s mom: When upset she would call out a long series of female names until she either hit the right one or just got tired.

      I like how you have a blissful world you live in … I do the same thing. Maybe we will run into each other out there!


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