I like my name. It’s classic, not trendy, and versatile in that, there are many ways to shorten it. I never really got to decide on the shortened version that stuck. Someone, somewhere along the line decided I was a Liz, rather than a Beth, Betty, Betsy, Liza, or Ellie. Generally, among my immediate family members, I’m Elizabeth, so as not to be confused with my Aunt Liz, but pretty much everyone else calls me Liz, with the exception of Ian, who occasionally likes to refer to me as Biffy when he wants to provoke growling from me. Even though I did not choose Liz, it’s the shortened version I would pick if I had the option, not that this really matters. It’s a bit too late to insist people use an alternate nickname of Elizabeth. I know this because I’ve tried.
When I was about eight or so, I decided I wanted to be a Beth, not a Liz. I remember writing, “My nickname is Beth!” on a sheet of notebook paper and showing it to my family, as if this somehow made it official. They could not possibly ignore my declaration! Except, they did. To be fair, I don’t recall enforcing my edict. I could have refused to answer to anything but Beth; informed all my friends, neighbors, and teachers of my moniker change; and introduced myself as Beth to any new person I met, but don’t remember doing any of these things. So people kept calling me Liz, and I eventually forgot about wanting to be a Beth.
In high school, I decided I wanted to be an Eli instead of a Liz. Never mind that Eli didn’t exactly roll off the tongue when paired with my last name (which was Ott at the time). That didn’t matter. Eli was different. I didn’t know anyone called Eli. I had heard of people named Eli (Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin [and one of the rare bits of history class that actually stayed in my brain], for one), but they were all men. I was going to be totally unique with my new name. Being totally unique was very important to me as a teenager, which is why I wore in a lot of black, listened to The Cure, and wrote bad poetry, because, you know, no one else did those things (unless you count pretty much everyone who decided they wanted to go against the mainstream). Being called Eli actually would have been somewhat unique, but, not surprisingly, it went the way of Beth. A few family members and friends made some half-hearted attempts to call me by my new name, but Liz eventually returned.
And so, I remain a Liz, and gladly so. I think it suits me. Liz has something that Beth and Eli don’t: the all-important Z.
Liz is, dare I say, a bit zazzy.