Well, if you really want to know, you have a choice: here’s this 500-word essay on the subject or you can just live with “it’s a nickname that stuck.” The essay? Sure, here you go…
First, don’t confuse me—romantic as it sounds—with Maeve, queen of the fairies in Irish legend, “she who intoxicates"; or with Shakespeare’s Mab, “the fairy’s midwife”.
I was named, by my diplomatic parents, after both grandmothers. But then they tested it out: Marie Elise Bodensiek—yikes, way too long for such a tiny baby! So I immediately became my initials: M-E-B, Meb—and when I was especially adorable, little Mebbie.
When I was of disciplinary age, they’d pull out the Marie Elise (emphasis on the last syllable) and I’d strive to be their little Mebbie again.
We moved around a fair amount when I was young—13 times before the end of high school—no, not military, just a dissatisfied journalist… and at each new school I had to introduce myself and explain The Name.
In second grade, the other kids, cruel beings, chanted “Meb Web, Bodensiek Hide-N-Seek” which prompted my intro in third grade—Marie. But that felt too normal, so when we moved again, I went back to Meb—until our ninth grade move, when I was officially Marie, but Meb to my small group of dissident friends.
My mother got me started using Boden, not Bodensiek. Her given name was Enid, another handle that required spelling and pronouncing. Enid Boden was just easier and it was for me too. In German, “boden” is the ground or soil, the bottom or the base. And that suits me—who can’t use a good foundation?
In my twenties, I was a performer and a writer, and Meb Boden, except for the stumbly double b’s in the middle, made a decent pen and stage name, so Meb Boden I became—at least as a byline and in programs.
In my thirties, I dutifully took my first husband’s last name, though Meb Moase didn’t have much of a ring to it, nor did it make quick sense of the “B” in Meb. When we divorced, I was offered my choice of names, so I made it official: Meb Boden is now and forever my legal name.
In my forties, when I married a wonderful man with an unpronounceable Lithuanian last name, I passed on taking another long, Must-Spell-Every-Time name and stuck to my now-legal, self-imposed moniker.
You might think I’d learn from past experience, but sadly no: I named our current business “Meb’s Kitchenwares”, which continues the legacy of spelling and explanations.
In daily life, I answer to anything that resembles Meb: most often Meg or Ned, and enjoy the affectionate pet names that friends and family give me: Meblonski, Mebster, Maybe Baby or Mayberry.
These days, with less time to spend talking about frivolous subjects, I’m grateful to Tom (who never has to spell his first name) Vaiciulis for the always interesting marriage and the short story—a nickname that stuck.