DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 54-year-old woman whose given name is Brett (a name typically given to boys). My mother loved the name after reading Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," and decided, long before I was born, to give that name to her child. I believe she was ahead of her time, and I admire her for that.
To be honest, I did not enjoy having this name while growing up; I wanted a flowery, feminine name like my sister's. But once I became an adult, I loved its uniqueness.
Throughout my life, I have had many responses to my name. The one that I continue to find tactless at best and offensive at worst is, "Did your parents want a boy?"
I've varied my answer over the years, depending on my maturity and mood. Throwing back the literary origin of Brett is generally my favorite tactic. I wonder what Miss Manners would advise as a response?
GENTLE READER: This is shocking! Not the casual rudeness you have endured; that is unfortunately so commonplace as to be unsurprising.
Miss Manners is shocked that not everyone has read "The Sun Also Rises." So yes, perhaps you could deliver a brief literary tutorial: "Surely you remember Brett, Lady Ashley? Jake Barnes' friend? That summer in Pamplona? The unfortunate episode with Romero?"
Perhaps that will encourage these people to look her up and be led to an influential work of American literature. Isn't it pretty to think so?