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by Abigail Van Buren

Getting Her Name Right Is a Challenge for Woman With Two First Names

DEAR ABBY: I am a Southern belle who was given two "first" names, such as Mary Lou (Peggy Sue, Betty Ann, Bobbi Jo, etc.). All my life the second half of my first name has been dropped. When I sign in at a doctor's office as "Mary Lou," it never fails that when I'm called or the receptionist looks at my records, my name is listed as Mary even after I have explained that my name is Mary LOU. At the pharmacy, I am asked my birth date because they say they have several Mary Smiths, even when I say I am Mary LOU Smith. Can you please tell me what I can say so they will remember that I have two first names? -- NOT JUST MARY, IN THE SOUTH

DEAR NOT JUST MARY: Try this the next time it happens. Look the person in the eye and say, "I prefer to be called by my full name. It's Mary Lou, not Mary. Please note that in your computer so we can be clear about it."

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics