Pity passing of Patty as popular proper name

As Kyle and I stood in line at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles recently, I hardly noticed at first. I guess that’s pretty telling of the root problem, really. Allow me to backtrack.

My son and I headed into the BMV to replace his driver’s license, a task we were both dreading since the moment he realized his wallet had gone missing some weeks prior.


We trudged in and dejectedly took a number, expecting to be there until the NBA Finals start in June. To our shock, our number was actually called within just a few minutes of our arrival. What a pleasant surprise, I thought silently.

And, as we headed up to the counter, one very petite and pretty lady began to help us straightway … even though we’d forgotten most of the proper identifying credentials and were crowding the “take a number” dispenser, among other BMV no-nos we were unwittingly committing.

Fully expecting to be dismissed so she could move onto the next customer, I began loading up all the random health insurance, major credit and department store cards I’d spilled onto the counter like hot, sticky coffee. I think I even accidentally dropped my Giant Eagle Advantage card into the cluttered fray. There it was, a river of useless crud just muddling up three-quarters of the counter. Ugh.

“We’re a hot mess,” I said sheepishly to the calm gal, who spotted an acceptable form of ID among the plastic spatter and continued helping us. “No problem at all.”

Wait … really? What the?

“Thank you so much…” I groveled, my eyes immediately searching her name badge so I could properly and personally offer her my gratitude, “Patty!” I said smiling at the coincidence of our shared name.

She is even a Y, like me.

Wide grin.

And immediately, a connection was sparked. I think it was my new, same-named pal who said it first: “You just don’t come across our name much any more.”

Well, at least, not in gals who are not of our generation.

“It’s true, it isn’t very popular with the younger set. I think we’re a dying breed … we are the last of the Pattys,” I said, feeling suddenly bittersweet about that fact.

James Fenimore Cooper would understand. Hmpf.

As we continued chatting about everything from the variations on Patricia (think Trish, Tricia or even Patrice) that we encounter sparingly among girls of this era, to Kyle’s suddenly blond hair (thanks to an annual swim team ritual of dying it) changing his photo significantly, to the updated process of reinstating a driver’s license as the resident of a new state, Patty and I were bonding.

It got me to wondering why more people wouldn’t want to be Pattys?

I quickly ran through all the Pattys I’ve encountered in my lifetime: a close pal from high school who used to refer to us (as did I) as “Patty squared;” that very dear friend of my Mom’s from her childhood who passed away at a young age; the sweet gal from my day job who recently quit but always kindly rerouted calls meant for me that landed in her voicemail box.

That’s when it hit me — I’ve only ever met great Pattys, so why and how are we getting some kind of bad name?

I mean, who doesn’t love Peppermint Patty on “Peanuts?” She’s the only one who treats Charlie Brown well. And Patty Duke was a beloved icon, an Academy Award-winning actress who totally made me believe she was identical cousins. Patti LuPone and Patti LaBelle are each a wonderfully talented songstress. What gives?

I mean, maybe we aren’t as glamorous as the Sophias and Bellas and Raquels of the world. Fine. But what’s wrong with a nice, dependable Patty?

I’m not gonna lie. Patti Hearst set us back.


Either way, here’s to you Patty at the BMV … and all the Pattys out there. I don’t care if the other-named humans don’t think we are cool — we rock!

Patty Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who wants to track down the peeps who are mucking up the good name of Patty. Narc them out to her at www.patriciakimerer.com.