Alternate Life Briefly Imagined Following Mom’s Comment That You Were Almost Named ‘Penelope’

On a Saturday afternoon flipping through childhood pictures, your mother off-handedly mentioned that “You know, we almost named you Penelope instead of Ashley.”


With that simple statement, an alternate life flashed before your eyes as you considered how things could have been drastically different.


Would you have been the type of girl to wear two loose braids every day, with wisps of face-framing bits forming a halo? Would you have had freckles like you always wanted? Would you have been a pleated skirt type of girl, who occasionally got down and dirty in overalls? All of these things could have been possible, if only you had been named “Penelope”.


Also, instead of a boring old “Ash,” you could have gone by a myriad more of names, like “Penny,” or “Nellie,” or “Opey.” Would more people have crushes on you if you went by “Penny”? You will never find out.


All your life you have had to add qualifiers to your very common name. “Ashley S” is what you had become known as, and sometimes even “other Ashley.” It has been a life of living as the alternative Ashley. If you were Penelope, you would have been the only Penelope you know.


You would have been unique, like a diamond in the rough.



“Why did you deprive me of such a life? I could have been so much more!” you exclaim to your mother, panicked and anguished.


“Well, your father said one of his exes was named Penelope. So that would’ve been awkward,” your mother explains.


Right. That would have been awkward.