i have an alter ego. she makes all my dinner reservations and calls the taxi company for early morning rides to the airport. her name is monica, and i call her my starbucks name.
the etymology stems from the need to give your name when you place an order at the coffee shop. i guess it's easier to yell than, "decaf, grande, one-pump skinny vanilla latte." the problem is that anneke, the dutch diminutive for ann (like anita or annie), is not a traditional american name, which causes a host of problems at the register. other uniquely-named folks, you feel my pain.
i learned as a child that, when yelled, "monica" sounds a lot like "anneke" (there was a monica on my swim team), so i've adopted it as a service-seeking pseudonym. why do i do this? well, if i give my real name, invariably, the barista will think i have said "monica" anyway. if she does happen to hear me correctly, she'll then ask how to spell it, and i'm faced with the same dilemma all over again -- do i give a phonetic spelling or do i continue my strict adherence to the truth, thus causing more confusion and much consternation for the poor guy who has to try to pronounce my name later? i'd rather just avoid the whole debacle.
i have a friend who also has an unusual name (his name is cullen, which was less common before the vampire craze) who consistently chastises me for forsaking my individuality in pursuit of smoother transactions. whenever he gives the maitre d' his real name, he'll cast a satisfied look my way. usually the response is: "okay, colin for two. we'll call you when your table's ready."
but maybe cullen is onto something. on occasion, they get his name right, and it's strangely satisfying -- a tiny triumph for creative parents everywhere. and, i guess you never know when giving your real name might yield a funny story. my friend dustin once ordered a coffee and gave his name. "justin?" the cashier asked. "no, dustin. with a D," he explained. he moved down the counter, picked up his order, and saw the name on the cup: JUSTIND.