Mystie Thongs: True Tales of an Unusual Name
All of my life, it has been difficult to get people to believe that my name is actually Mystie Thongs, that I am not making it up, and that I am not an out of work, exotic dancer. The giggles and shocked disbelief are commonplace, as well as the slightly pervy smirk from men of all ages. To be honest though, it was not always like this.
When I was younger, it was just an unusual name that no one was sure how to pronounce. However, after Sisqo sang his insanely popular “Thong Song”, my life and the lives of all my family members were never the same. But what’s in a name? Well, your name is your first impression, your toe in the door, and what people continually identify you, your work, and personality by. As such, growing up, my name would cross my lips with a grimace and a sigh; it was not one I felt I deserved or could carry off. My awkward puberty years were even more uncomfortable, as my name made me the person to tease by all the somewhat creative, colourful boys I met.
However, the most unbelievable story in my virtual treasure trove of hilarious name tales occurred on a trip back to university in upstate New York. Now anyone who has travelled to the United States knows that the most unnerving part of the trip happens when you have to greet and speak to the immigration officers in their little booths. They ask the hard questions, testing you to see if your papers are actually legit. So I am at the booth and I hand over my papers. For a while there is just silence and I raise my head and look across at the young woman. She looks back at me, and by now I am starting to get concerned wondering if I left out a form or something was incorrectly stamped.
Small beads of sweat started to peek out on my forehead; then just as I was going to ask her about her lack of questions, she smiles at me and starts singing, “Let me see that thong tha thong thong thong…”
Understand the position I was in then. On one hand, I was relieved that she decided to just enjoy my name, not ask me anything and let me go right through. On the other hand, though, here was another person thinking it was the very first time that someone had thought it would just be absolutely hilarious to sing ‘the Thong song’ to a woman whose surname was Thongs. Luckily for her and me, by that time in my life my name and people’s reaction to it no longer upset me, so I simply smiled and went on through.
The tradition of naming children is one that every culture holds dear. Families hold christening ceremonies, while parents spend months searching for just the right name to bestow upon their new bundle of joy. Some people are named after flowers, moments or special places that hold memories for their parents. Others are christened in the hope that their name will represent who they are to become in this world. Still, many more are given names of forbearers, whose lives and legacies were so meaningful that parents seek to pass them onto the generation newly created.
No matter the reason or the cause, your name becomes your calling card to the world, and for each of us there comes a time when we realize that the choice is ours to embrace or reject this irreplaceable label. That time came for me, while at college. At first, I did intensive research, trying to find the root of the surname Thongs and whether or not Mystie was actually a legitimate spelling option. The more I looked – together with the more questions I asked – the more I realized that maybe, just maybe, this was not a punishment from God Himself, or a joke of some kind. It became fairly obvious, when I stopped taking myself so seriously, that my name was a blessing, not only for me, but potentially every single person who heard or read it.
My name made people smile, and chuckle. However bad their day was going, or as tedious a task they were involved in, reading or hearing my name turned all of that around. For some, it was the realization of “wow, imagine if I had to carry that name”. For others, it evoked amusement or joy to come across such a combo of letters.
So here I was living my life, and, without any effort, bringing joy to everyone who learned my name. It automatically broke the ice no matter the occasion; even my professors and colleagues enjoyed introducing me to strangers. Very often I would hear, “You have to meet my friend Mystie. Her real name is Mystie Thongs. Yes I am serious!”
By this point, I began appreciating my very unusual name and eventually it began to work for me in a positive way. When I started writing, it became my number one asset. Even if you had no interest in the topic, you wanted to read what a woman with that kind of name would write. Many times I have had readers ask how I came up with such a pseudo name, only to be completely bowled over when I explained the truth. The other main advantage is that it is a name that no one forgets, and that is priceless – no matter what field or career you are in.
So yes, my name is Mystie Thongs, and no… it has not always been easy for me to say and accept that. These days, though, I find myself happily saying to all whom I meet, “Yeah it’s my real name, and, furthermore, I more than live up to it”. And let’s be frank, you cannot get a better introduction than that!
Image courtesy iStockphoto.com
Check out the rest of this week’s issue (6/12/10; Issue 35):