In Spain people don’t really have two first names unless you are actually supposed to use them. Most of those compound names end up becoming one shortened name, like María Jesus becomes Mariaje and Juan Manuel becomes Juanma and José María becomes Chema (don’t ask me about that one…) Regardless, the entire name is still there, at least in spirit. The American custom of giving someone two names only for one of those names to be dropped in actual usage, and frequently a cause for embarrassment among friends as a teenager, is definitely a foreign concept here in Spain.
I suppose it’s not unlike the American inability (at least on official things like immigration documents, car insurance, and company emails) to understand that some people from foreign countries have two last names. You can only imagine the headaches we got trying to explain to the people issuing said documentation that, “Yes, Nacho has two last names, and, yes, just to make matters worse, the first one is made up of two words.” Complicated, I know.
Anyway, back to the impetus for my writing. All of my official Spanish documentation includes my entire name. And I love it. Perhaps my family is strange, but for us the use of first AND middle names was a sign of affection, not of impending punishment. So now when a receptionist calls my name or the bank people call our house and ask for “Amy Cathleen” I am tickled pink.
I’m easy to please. I know.