An Open Letter To My Parents When They Were Naming Me 20 Years Ago

Dear parents from 20 years ago,


I know you’re excited about me, this little late-in-life baby. I will easily be your most difficult and destructive child and with you two being in your 40s, you’re already pretty burnt out. But I have other issues to take up with you.

Don’t put a silent letter in my name.

I can understand the temptation. After moving to Canada from India more than a decade ago, you want to make sure your children have a piece of your culture with them for life. You want to make sure they stand out in a crowd, that they have strength of character and guts and gumption.

Do not put that silent letter in my name.

In later years, Mother, I will learn that it was your husband, your foolhardy husband, who chose the spelling. The name will start as Sachi, said as it’s spelled, who is the wife of the Hindu god, Indra. This will develop into Saachi, meaning either truth or ambidextrous. Then, sometime between your first trimester and the moment I ruined your lives, it’ll turn into “Scaachi” but with the original pronunciation. It isn’t a word in any accepted language.


When Siri becomes a thing in 20 years, I will hate you so much more.

My name makes some things harder, like crossing the border, spelling my name over the phone and being 8 years old and overweight in public school, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. It has its upsides:

  • will always be available
  • affirmative action
  • it makes some people want to talk to me more
  • it makes others avoid me altogether

I will often wonder what it was that compelled you to add that extra a, that silent c. I’ll wonder if you two were drinking and thought it was a good idea. So it goes when alcohol is involved, what sounds like a good idea at night is often disastrous when the morning calls.

Father: What about Sachi?

Mother: That is a nice name that is an actual word.

Father: Okay, but let’s add an extra a.

Mother: That’s a little gratuitous if you ask me, but sure, it’s still technically a word.

Father: And a silent c right after the s, just because.

Mother: I had all the wine! Look at how all the wine is gone!

Father: I hope she never dates ever.

Mother: I found more wine, I found more wine!

If that’s how you decided, you can tell me. I promise I won’t be mad.

The decision to give me this first name isn’t improved by our last name. Something that should be pronounced phonetically as “cool” is instead “coal,” and white people across the world stare at me, confused, as I explain that my name is actually “Sa-chee Coal” and not “Skatchee Cool.”

Our family crest should be a dragon eating a unicorn or something else that doesn’t make any sense.

The bitterest icing on this cake? My middle name. You’ll claim that it comes from my paternal grandmother, but what you won’t recognize is that it’s one letter off from being the same name as the female lead in a very famous 1955 novel where the character has underage sex with her stepfather.

(I don’t want to ruin it for you guys at home, but here’s a hint: the name of the book is Lolita. Okay, no more hints!)

I suppose, dear Mother and Father, this name has always left me with choices. I will always have a decision at Starbucks when making an order. When they ask for my name to scribble on the cup, should I sheepishly answer with ‘Pam’ and carry my misnamed latte all day to avoid the trouble?

Or should I take some pride in my troubling but unique name, extra letters and all? “It’s Scaachi. No, S-c-a— yes, I said c. C like cat. Not Kit Kat, like the animal. A meow-meow cat. Yeah, S-c-a-a-c— yes, two a’s. Two a’s after the first c. S-c-a-a-c-h-i. I not y. Yeah, it’s a silent c. I don’t know why, my parents named me, I didn’t. It means ambidextrous. No, I’m not. Well, I don’t know why they picked it, maybe you should ask them. Oh, so what, your name is any better? ‘Todd?’ Great, Todd, thanks, you’re clearly the authority on what’s reasonable with your two nose rings, pigeon tattoos, and aspirations to be the next Criss Angel. JUST GO GET MY COFFEE.”

I’m going to be angry with you for a long time about this minor strife, Ma and Pops, but after a couple of decades, I’ll decide that I’d rather the extra c than be another ‘Todd.’

Besides, I’ll take any reason to feel martyred and indignant, and this gives me a life-long excuse.


S-c-a-a-c-h-i K-o-u-l

(PS – All the times I’ll come home smelling like smoke? It’s not my friends, it’s me. It’s always, always me.) TC mark


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  • Guest

    oh, i loved this.
    i use coffee shop excursions as an excuse to use all the fake names i want.  

  • Yay

    I had all the wine! Look at how all the wine is gone!

  • tough luck

    nothing i hate more than spelling out my name at starbucks except for spelling out my name at urban outfitters

  • Sharon Panelo

    Dude. Your name is Saatchi Cool.  No complaining

  • peet

    righetous. the post-script is a gpoy if i ever saw one

  • animalcollective

    funny and a big gpoy. My name is Skye Blu. Seriously.

    • Tony F.

      oh my god, I’m so sorry @_@

  • Uchenna Anyiam

    Hahaha, this is me all through Elementary School. And Junior High. And most of High School. 

  • The Green Door

    I know the feeling. My name is Phoebe, (yes like from Friends) and you would think that because of the connections to Phoebe Buffay and Phoebe Cates and the geek from “Hey Arnold” people would immediately know how to pronounce it when written but that silent “O” is like an elephant standing in the way and when people see it they just have to pronounce it. So instead of the phonetic “Feebee” I get called “Foe-bee”. And to top it off it has the “Ph” in the beginning. So when people find out how my name is spelled they say “Omg you spell it with a PH? I thought it was spelled with and F!” As if it wasn’t hard enough for my 6 year old self to remember how my own name was spelled, I have to constantly remind others that “Yes, the O is silent” and “No it’s not spelled with an F” and “No, the O goes before the E” and so on… Fortunately it does have its up sides. I was one of the few kids who knew that “PH” made an “F” sound when learning to read and write, I know at least one of the moons of Saturn, and I do get to tell people that I was named after Holden Caulfield’s kid sister. I’ve also never met anyone else with my name so I don’t get confused when people yell my name. I think the same can be said for Scaachi.

  • Tony F.

    I found more wine, I found more wine!

  • Sian

    Pretty sure my parents were drunk too:
    I know we live on the other side of the world from Ireland but lets go for something gaelic okay?
    How about Sian?
    No Sian.
    Riiiight. Lets let her elderly grandmothers pick her middle names. 
    Angus Frances it is then.
    We’re out of wine. Holy fuck we’re out of wine.
    *sober pause*
    So about combining our last names….
    No, there’s no fucking way our daughter will be called Sian Angus Frances Small-Payne. Lets just stick with Small. 
    Everyone in your family is over six foot. It’s quite an ironic last name.
    Everyone in your family is a pain in the arse. 
    That’s not ironic.
    No but the fact that you’re a doctor is. 

    • eeeeee

      hahahaha oh my goodness can Sian write something for Thought Catalog? Seriously

  • Raegan

    At least you weren’t named after Ronald Reagan…..

  • Sofi P.

    I like you.

    (I also go by “Pam” at Urban Outfitters when they write a name on the door because no one ever gets SOFI right and SOPHIE takes too long for them to goddamn write.)

  • Catlin

    I sympathize with you. My name is catlin. Most say caitlin. It is instead CAT-lin as in the cat. I swear I think parents plot to give us weirdly spelled and pronounced names 

  • Kelcie Moseley

    I had to contain myself at work not to laugh a lot more at this. 

    People can never spell my name either, but it’s worse when you have different pronunciations. Loved it. 

  • mookie

    This piece made me laugh my head off. 

    As someone who has had to spell the surname S-C-H-I-R-A-L-L-I my whole life, as people try to mangle the pronunciation as much as possible into things like Sk-rilli and Shirly, I totally sympathise… I’m just so thankful that my parents finally gave up on the name Maximillion and gave me the much simpler M-a-r-k.
    That said, embrace the uniqueness. I’m thinking about paying it forward by giving my kids really weird names.

  • eeeeee

    This was so funny, I really enjoyed it! I can relate to having a weird name that no one knows how to spell. I know how much it sucks. They ADD a letter to my name, which is as frustrating as keeping one off your name is.

    But listen to this- if nothing else, it’s a great conversation topic.
    “What’s your name?”
    “Oh, cool!”
    “What’s even cooler is that there’s a silent C in there”

  • Sam

    At Starbucks you could always just say your name is Voldemort like my parents did. They thought it was funny to get people to say it out loud.

    • Pragni

      I have a unique name too, and no one can ever spell it right the first time. So at starbucks, I usually go with Princess Leia, or Michelle Obama, or Hermione!! :D I kinda like my unique name though, gives me a thrill to know that there are only 4 other such people in the world with a name like mine. (Damnit!)

  • Cleotie

    this is so funny.

    My real name is Cleotie and I don’t have any idea about why my parents gave me such name. I asked them, they can’t remember anymore. I go by the nickname Cleo but still some people calls me Chloe. Over the phone (and yes, even in Starbucks) they call me Claire -_-‘ My chinese officemate calls me Clerio. Sometimes, I even get mistaken as a guy because they thought that the name Cleo are for guys :|

  • Anonymous
  • NoSexCity

    The easily Google-able name; both a blessing and a curse. (As for your middle name… that’s rough. And a little weird.)

  • Michelle Lenzen

    hahah thnx for the morning lawls.  Being on the opposite side of the spectrum with one of the most common names in americ

  • Michelle Lenzen

    ……………so awkward for me sharing unfinished thoughts. anywayz yes plans to name my children unknown foreign names to spice of their lives but okay note to self drop the silent c’s got it no scaachi babies for me

  • Ella

    Man, I though I had it bad with Eleanor Mary Theresa McPhillips Sertich.
    “Eleanor. E-L-E, yes, E, A-N, did you put the A in there? No, there’s no I. E-L-E-A-N-O-R. No E at the end. Are you thick?”
    I’ve gotten it all, Elinor, Elenore, Elanor, Ellenor, Any combination of that, I even got Alinor one time.
    And my last name is pronounced exactly as it is spelled. It’s not Sur-Tick. Or Ster-itch. It’s croatian. Ser-tich.
    Even when I started going by Ella, people still have to ask how it’s spelled and I get many a coffee cup labeled with “Ela”

  • Cayenne

    Unique names suck. My name is Cayenne (yes, like the pepper), but I get a myriad of butchered pronounciations, ranging from “Shee-annie” to “Chai-een”. If saying it is tough, going so far as to spell it is unfathomable for most people. Really, has nobody never spiced their food before? If I was named something like Jalapeno or Chipotle at least I wouldn’t get so many blank, glazed, uncomprehending stares. On the bright side, us oddly named folks will never be a bland ‘Emily S’ or “Jessica P’. Plus, no ‘Jane’ or ‘Ellen’ can boast that they have a silent C in their names :)

  • Anonymous
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