Piqued your curiosity with that ^ title?
Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with Typhoid. I barely know what Typhoid is, beyond reading about that dreadful outbreak over a hundred years ago, and its silent carrier, Mary Mallon.
Discloser: Café Mary is me. This is the name I use whenever a person at a café/food counter says, “What name shall I put on this order?” For me it is always MARY.
If you’re still reading, you may be saying, “But why? Mirka is a perfectly nice name, and it is unique.”
There, precisely, lies the crux of the matter.
My café-restaurant name made its first appearance fifteen years ago, in Old Town Sacramento, California, in a tavern that looked like a throwback to the days of the Wild West.
With a dear friend and her daughter, DH and our two kids, we traveled by train from the bay area. After a lovely round of touring the Gold Rush Museum, Train Museum, and many (many) shops, we were famished. We settled on what looked like a saloon. While the kids and DH waited at a table, my friend and I made our lunch orders at the counter. Then a guy with a cowboy hat and jeans that were two sizes too small on him asked for our names.
“Stephanie,” said my friend for her order.
“I’ll get it right to you, Stephanie,” said the hunk.
“Mirka,” said I.
“”Huh? What kinda name is that?” said the hunk, whose name could have been Bo, or Chad.
I was about to do what I have to do everywhere, and spell it for him. He didn’t seem like he had the time to hear the explanation about Slavic diminutives, and how my birth name was Miriam but at the Children's House of my parents’ kibbutz there were two Miriams and my father chose Mirka so I will have some distinction, etc.
“M-I-R…” I started.
“”Nah,” said Mr. Tight Jeans. “ Don’t give me that. Give me an American name.”
I was thinking how Mirka is a Slavic diminutive of Mary. “Mary?” I said.
“I’ll get it right to you, Mary,” he said.
By the time our burgers and fries arrived at the table, I had no problem going under any name. But my kids couldn't understand why the server kept calling their mom by what, to them, was an odd name.
And so it became my café name. To this day, I think of it as my other identity for these sorts of occasions.
[A wonderful article in the New York Times reminded me, once again, how names have resonance and connotative identities. You can read it here-
For writers, names are part of the story, and not a trivial part, either. To me, it is also part of how I write my life.