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You ever change your FIRST name?

by Dhani on September 22, 2012   |  FacebooktwitterTumblr

The reason I bring the question 'up' is because I was quietly reminiscing about how many first-name changes I've had in my life, usually during watershed moments. My real first name is 'Donald', but I was soon nicknamed 'Donnie' while growing up, which rhymes with my current (writer's) name 'Dhani'. My middle name, by the way, is 'Carmen'. I'm Italian-American & in Italy a predominantly feminine name as such is also given to males. (In Mexico there are lots of men named 'Jesus MARIA'.) 'Carmen' or 'Carmine' -that's the reason why I've titled my semi-autobiographical novel 'RED: Memoirs of a Garbage Collector'.

In my 20s, some of my close friends would endearingly call me 'Don Carmen', and so, when I published book reviews for Gannett (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle) I wrote under the name 'Don Carmen Schimizzi'. Later, when I migrated to Mexico in the early 80s, I wrote for various English-speaking newspapers in Puerto Vallarta under 'Donato'. Why? Because when I first began living in Mexico, my Mexican friends couldn't pronounce 'Donald', it came out sounding like 'DONUT'!, so I said the hell with that & chose the Italian name 'Donato' for them & it's stuck ever since.

Now 'Dhani', that came about in a watershed moment during my close encounter with cancer in 2006. I had read that George Harrison christened his son with the Indian name, 'Dhani' (remember the Beatles taking India by storm in the 60s?) and I loved it because it rhymed with 'Donnie' & I liked the spelling of it. So I adopted it as my current writing name on the internet. Two years later I was 100% free of cancer and was employed by TARGET as a cashier ($7/ an hr.) for one year so I could earn my passage back to Mexico, and during that time a sweet lady from India noticed my name tag & asked me: 'Do you know what 'Dhani' means in India?' 'No', I replied. 'It means 'rich man'. Blew my mind. A 'rich man' earning $7 an hr. But it's all in the HEART, right mates?


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