Mom as a little girl at the shvitz w/ her mom, getting beaten with fan

Mom as a little girl at the shvitz w/ her mom, getting beaten with fans

Up until I first got my period, I was Susie. In high school, I was Sue. After reinventing myself in college, I became Susan.

My mom and, hence, other relatives continued to call me Susie.

My dad called me Sooze, (pronounced Sooz, not Soozie) starting when I was 20 and began selling my cutesy pen and ink and watercolor pictures, the kind homeowners hang in their bathrooms. In order to further cuten up the faceless creations (gag/blush), I signed them Sooze.

This quadruple-split in my moniker causes angst when signing an email; frankly, I’m wiped out by the time I’ve figured out whether to write XO or what.

It would feel preposterous to sign “Susie” in an email to my cousin. She knows I’m now Susan. Yet it’s like she’s referring to someone else when she leaves a voicemail, saying, “Hi Susan, it’s your cousin . . . .”

This has been going on for years with Cuz and it’s too late, not to mention too weird, to say, “Please call me Susie.”

Sue CHS '63

Sue CHS ’63

I’ve trained myself to sign Sue on emails to my Cheltenham High School peeps, with whom I correspond sporadically.

It would simplify matters if I were to sign S on all emails, but I’ve tried and just can’t bring myself to represent myself as a single letter. I’m not knocking anyone who does: lots of friends sign just an initial.

In fact, I don’t know any single-initial signers who use upper case. Are they saving time bypassing the shift button?

I, myself, am guilty of pondering whether typing one space or two after a colon or period takes more time; it requires effort to unlearn typing two spaces. Other time-wasters I seem unable to sidestep include proof-reading casual emails and correcting typos.

If I can’t sign S, there’s no way I could sign s. Do I think so highly of myself that a small s just won’t do? Or, am I so insecure that I need a great big SUSAN to prove how unimportant I am NOT?

I cannot even talk about my email exchanges with Kay, a dear, brilliant, creative woman who has helped me part-time for 15 years, cleaning, paying my bills, dogsitting, catering parties and sharing family stories.

When we first met, she called me Mrs. Orlins, and I didn’t say right away “Call me Susan.” Then it became too late to change.

If it’s impossible to sign Susie, S or s, similarly there is no prospect I could sign Mrs. Orlins when writing to K, so I don’t sign anything.

Unable to call myself anything, reminds me of 1965, when I was unable to call my first set of in laws anything. Back then it was de rigeur to marry and overnight convert the in laws from Mr. and Mrs. Fiance to Mom and Dad.

My niece sends me emails without any name. She starts right in, and I always wonder whether her salutation-less emails mean she’s not sure what to call me.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt


All that said, I like the friendly sound of nicknames; I call my kids Lizie, Beanie and Emy. And I call my beagle-basset, who’s name is Casey, everything from  Casemaster General to Caseminster Fuller to Cary Grant.

Speaking of names, is there a point at which you transitioned from what you called your parents as a kid? Is it infantile that, even in my sixties, when speaking with my siblings, I refer to my parents as Mommy and Daddy?

How do you sign emails? With angst, like me?




Check out my memoir . . .

Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others                                                  is now on, Kindle, and Smashwords

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