Anyone who’s ever gotten an email from me may have noticed that I always sign them as “AmyV”.

There’s no reason, really, for me to ever refer to myself as AmyV. Unless you know my history. Ooh, my “history.”

A lifetime ago, I worked at a dead tree newspaper called The Miami Herald. I was in the Fort Lauderdale bureau and it was kinda funny, because we had lots of duplicate names. There was a James and two Jims. Two Steves, I think? Maybe a couple of Tonys? And two Amys.

Amy Alexander started at The Herald a few months after me. She was a full-fledged reporter and I was what was euphemistically called a “clerk-reporter,” which meant I did all the work of a clerk and all the work of a reporter, for less than the salary of either.

That’s OK. It happened a long time ago, and I had experiences nothing could ever replace.

But when you have more than one person in the office with the same name, you have to come up with ways to differentiate. So Amy was AmyA and I was AmyV.

We sat right across from one another. Literally, we faced each other every day. I heard her as she cajoled people into talking to her, and she heard me as I called dozens of police and fire departments and funeral homes every day. People would call the newsroom, and I answered most calls – if they asked for “Amy,” I’d always have to ask which one.

“Which Amy? Amy Alexander or Amy Vernon?”

In the newsroom, everything was always AmyA or AmyV. We would refer to each other as such, because it amused us.

Amy was a popular name in the United States for only a handful of years in the 1960s and 1970s. Why? I have actually researched this and have never figured out why. It had nothing to do with Ray Bolger singing “Once in Love with Amy” and the arc predated the Pure Prairie League song (though the most popular year was 1975, three years after the song “Amie” was a hit).

My parents knew no one named Amy and knew no one whose child was named Amy, yet every year in school, there was another Amy in my class or in the year ahead or behind me. Or any two or three of the three options.

Whenever I meet an Amy, I assume she’s either a late Boomer or a Gen Xer. We’re a special breed and tend to a bit cynical and slightly pissed off.

All I know is, when it comes to AmyA and AmyV, that definition fits.

Photo by steve p2008 via Flickr Creative Commons.

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