Jamie Garrett Explains the Difficulty of Living With a ‘Girl Name’
When I explain to someone how difficult it's been living with my name, a "girl name", they all ask why I didn't just choose a different "radio" name when I first got into radio. The answer may surprise you. Girls. Well, women. When I first got into radio I imagined two factions of women that I wanted to make sure knew I was on the radio, those that had rejected me in the past and those that would reject me in the future.
I figured using my real name would impress the ladies, when, in actuality, it's really only the Dominoes Pizza guy that's recognized my name over the years. That fact is more of a cry for help than something to brag about. I'd like to tell you something that might make you think there's more behind my decision to use my real name, but it was purely vanity.
At least I'm honest. I could have told you I chose to use my real name because I'm a real person, not a character on the radio, and choosing a name other than my own would make me less real. That's crap. It was for my single days. Turns out, it was someone that knew me before I was even IN radio that married me, so I didn't need to use the name, after all.
Even before my radio days, the teasing was relentless. As a kid, I was always hearing about it from the other kids. My teachers always assumed during the first roll call of the year that I was a girl. I even got teased by my own siblings, but what didn't we tease each other about? When deciding on our first son's name, my wife briefly floated the idea of naming him Jamie, Jr. I immediately rejected that idea based on the years of torment of which I'd been on the receiving end. The cycle of teasing would end with me.
All the years of teasing as a kid was never something that stuck with me (despite the fact that I'm writing about it here). I know that kids are kids. Kids tease. Kids are horrible to other kids. Kids are a-holes like that. I'm beyond that, and I've actually taken a bit of pride in the uniqueness (is that a word? Spellcheck says it is) of the name. There aren't many dudes named Jamie. There definitely aren't a bunch of dudes on the radio using the name Jamie.
The only time the name thing gets under my skin is in written form. When I see Ms. Jamie Garrett, it bugs me. I'm not saying that if I get an email inquiry from someone addressing Ms. Jamie Garrett it will instantly be deleted, but unless it's from a Nigerian prince needing $5,000-US within 48-hours in order to claim his royal holdings from a Swiss bank account, I'm not reading it.
Send me junk mail or mail in general addressed to a Ms. Jamie Garrett and you get the trash can. That's right, I don't even recycle. You go right into the trash can so you don't get recycled into another piece of junk mail that might be addressed to Ms. Jamie Garrett sometime in the future, thus ruining future-Jamie's day.
I sometimes find myself wanting to scream from the rooftops:
Yes. Thank you, Victoria's Secret. I'll rush right in to take advantage of your awesome push-up bra. My cleavage, and my wife, thank you.
I don't take it personally. Honest. It's a respect issue. I can understand the mass-mailings getting it wrong, but if you're trying to sell me something, at least make sure it's something that my gender can wear... without being super-weird.
A song you're promoting to have played on-air? At the very least, go to the "on-air" page of the website and confirm the gender before you ask for the favor. It's not like my name is Mark. It's borderline. Take a moment.
The struggle is real. Maybe I'm an example of evolution-in-progress. I've been assumed to be a girl and woman so many years by random people that my body has evolved, overcompensating for the name. I'm bald on top, hair LITERALLY everywhere else on my body and I have the deeper voice. Darwin would be proud. I'm like the last Dodo bird in existence, a marvel to be... marveled at... by all. Or something.