How Jennifer Became Erin

A conversation with my bio-mom Donna and sister Heather about how “Jennifer” became “Erin.”

Listen to the Recording

JD: So where the heck did Jennifer get “Erin?”

Ma: Okay. You were John Patrick, but it was supposed to be “Jon” without the “h.” Initially it was going to be “Jonathan” but it didn’t happen.

JD: Thank you for that, by the way…

Ma: Anyway, after that, Jennifer…. I couldn’t make up my mind, either Jennifer Erin or Jennifer Elizabeth.

JD: Which is how I know her. [It’s on her birth certificate.]

Ma: Yeah, Jennifer Elizabeth. But later on I was going to add the Erin, which you can do legally without a bunch of … as long as you don’t do it for fraudulent purposes. So that’s … so when she got into college everyone was calling her Erin. I don’t know if it was a generation of Jennifers. When I named her, I knew one Jennifer, Jennifer Costello, the sister of the guy I went to Senior Skip Day with. Had I not met Richard Costello I would never have met Jennifer. So anyway I liked the name.

Ma: When Heather came along there were no Heathers out there, there weren’t any. By the time she got to second grade there must have been four or five in everything she did. In little theater, in the classroom, everywhere.

JD: There are always lots of Johns. Not too many Gretchens though.

Ma: But it’s an up and coming name.

JD (to Heather): You and I are alike in the way we both have first and last names that are first names.

Heather: Yeah, and it drives me crazy. It’s funny how condescending people can be. I was in a class and the teacher was asking around for our last names for seating or something. She said, “Last name?” and I said “Ashley.” She looked at me and glared, “Last name?” and I said “Oh yeah, I’ve got this one down pat.”

Recorded 5 March 2013 near San Jose, CA.