“YOU’re Cynthia?” she asked, obviously aghast. “You’re really not what I pictured Cynthia would look like.”

I know exactly what she means. People are supposed to look like their names, and it’s awfully disconcerting when they don’t.

Me, I’ve always thought a Cynthia should be a tall, willowy brunette with very long fingers, huge eyes, graceful arms and extremely prominent collarbones. Sort of like Audrey Hepburn, but taller, with hips. Cynthia has enormous, bee-stung red lips and thick, shiny hair that flows to her waist. She can be faintly treacherous; she’s usually the other woman in a divorce, she likes her martinis very dry, and she has a faint accent that could be British. Or maybe French.

Since I’m a Cynthia and I sure as heck don’t fit THAT description, I’ve no idea where this comes from. Yet my head absolutely KNOWS all these names without even meeting their owners:

  • Brendas are always blonde, built and about to have a baby.
  • Shelbys are always from the south and like to wear yellow.
  • Johns have lantern jaws and a lot of chest and back hair.
  • Garys are red-headed with near-white eyebrows and they play a lot of tennis.
  • Cassandras wear caftans, are suspected of being mentally imbalanced, and swoop around parties calling, “Daaaaaaaahling….”
  • Simons always wear black, they like hats and they have no hair, which possibly explains the hats.
  • Patricias always have chocolate and very thin, straight hair, and they don’t talk much.
  • Nathans are sailors who live with their mothers and wind up marrying strippers.
  • Victorias are skinny, have black hair, freckles and very wide mouths, and they yell a lot.
  • Freds are into the outdoors and usually have twigs in their hair.
  • Dierdres have a permanent frown, blue eyes and like to complain about bad haircuts.

The fact that I know lots of people with these names and not ONE comes close to these descriptions is apparently irrelevant. If this is your name, my brain will assume you look like this until proved otherwise..at which point it starts calling everyone “hey–you!”

I dunno. Maybe I encountered these people in the movies, or in books. Maybe I have some weird genetic memory.

Or maybe my name is really Cassandra.