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The Fame Of The Name

by Madonna Dries Christensen



I’ve known only four others with the name Madonna: a cousin; a girl my brother dated; the sister of a guy I dated, and our namesake, the Blessed Lady. She’s the one a librarian was referring to years ago when she handed back my card and said, “Pretty name. Is it hard to live up

I replied that I had never tried living up to it.

That was before the infamous Madonna, the celebrity. These days, it’s more like living it down.  

A doctor, studying my chart, said, “Madonna, huh? Well, I don’t think the other one has any talent and I’m sure you’re nicer than she is.”

I approved of his bedside manner.

When my daughter told her college friends that her mother’s name was Madonna, they scoffed, “Yeah, right.” She had to show them the address sticker on my letters. 

At a family reunion, my young nieces giggled that they couldn’t wait to tell their friends they had been with Madonna over the weekend.

A sonogram technician greeted me with, "Love that name. I was so excited when I saw it on my list this morning."

I laughed and told her I hoped that wasn't the most exciting thing that happened to her this day.

Sometimes a clerk glances up when scanning my credit card, as if checking to see if it could possibly be —  One look clears that up. I would never be mistaken for the music star. I’m older, I wear glasses, and I never wear a metal bra. In Florida’s heat and humidity?

One young bank teller glanced at my account and said, “Wow, you have a famous name. I've never met a Madonna.” 

“I had the name before she did,” I said.

She smiled. “She used to be my idol.” 

“Not any more?”

“Nah, I've grown up.” 

Behind me in line, an eavesdropper said, “I heard Madonna’s gonna have a baby, but I’ve never heard who the father is.” 

“Maybe a virgin birth,” I offered. 

A journalist who interviewed me for an article about my first book said, “Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the eighties, but I think your name is awesome.”

I'll overlook that the word awesome is profoundly overused. 

Madonna recently invaded my writing territory, too. But she writes children’s books so I don’t have to compete with her there. However, I often end up in the same search engine hits, where some of them offer porn regarding her, the other one. 

I understand that Madonna has a new boyfriend named Jesus, and that she adheres to Kabbalah, a faith based on the study of Hebrew texts. And she changed her name to Esther. I saw this headline: Madonna calls for US troops to leave Iraq (AFP). Would that have the same impact if it read: Esther calls for US troops to leave Iraq? I don’t think so.

Still, all of you Esthers might want to prepare yourselves. Should Madonna’s new name become engrained in public consciousness, bear with it. Maybe she’ll change her name again.

Someone once told me she can’t stand Madonna, but she admires her business savvy and the way she promotes herself. I do not admire Madonna for any reason. Particularly because she made my once uncommon name a household word, and not a particularly flattering one.

On the other hand, things could be worse. I'm grateful that my parents did not name me Lady Gaga.

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