My Name This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 1, 2012
I am not named after Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I am also not named after Dorothy Parker, the poet — that's just what my dad tells people as a joke, probably because it would be lame for him to say I'm named after his ex-wife's family. That, or he just wants to impress people with his literary knowledge.

My great grandmother was Dorothy. Her daughter was Dorothy too, but went by Dottie. She was my mom's mom. My mother was named Dorothy Suzanne and went by Suzie, but dropped the Dorothy after she got married. When my mom was my age, her English teacher made them write about their names. She vowed to never name her child Dorothy, but for some reason she did. Maybe it was to honor the first Dorothy, who took her in when she moved out of her awful home, or her mother, the second Dorothy, who died when my mom was fourteen. Or maybe she was tired after being in labor so long, she didn't feel like coming up with something else. I've always wondered why she ultimately decided on keeping the Dorothy tradition. Being born in 1996, I'm surprised I wasn't named after one of the girls on Friends. That would have been neat.

My mother determined to call me Dori. I've always been very passive about Dori; it's terse, it sounds nice, it's weird enough to be original, but not too odd it gets mispronounced. People at school I've talked to once or twice seem to remember it, even though I don't remember theirs because I never remember those things. I've always thought Dori was an okay name to have — unless a certain Pixar movie comes out in 2003 involving a fish named Dory. I am now constantly plagued with associations, and always stop the everlasting “Like the fish?” question. I don't really mind, though. Dory is the funniest character in said movie, and if one day I'm as funny as Ellen DeGeneres, I would be thrilled.

My dad says that if I ever get cast in a television show or a professional play or something, or even when I do stand-up, I should go by Dorothy. He says it's more distinguished, a name as old as time, and no one would take someone named Dori seriously. Dorothy; that's an actor. But Dori? That's a person, and even though I'm more of an actor than a person, it's nice to have an identity that pretends to be as unique as I pretend to be. Dori is like an improvisation, sweaty and awkward, a song unrehearsed. Dori's a dorky white girl who knows more about Joss Whedon's works than she does about boys. Dori is the sparky little girl with a smile on her face and a song in her heart! Dori is dry and sarcastic, and smarter than I am. Even though Dorothy sounds more theatre-y, I like Dori. Dori is that squiggly red line that resents my existence, and that is very much me.

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