Mostly Mandy

July 1, 2015 § 3 Comments

When my parents named me, they named me after a friend, Amanda someone or other. There’s a faded picture of her in one of my photo albums: apparently I was a flower girl at her wedding when I was a tot.

But my mother, being a practical sort, decided she would save everyone the trouble of shortening my name, and so my given name is Mandy, not Amanda. It’s in my ID book as such, and if you set store by such things, that’s how I was christened: Mandy.

But inevitably, my name has been shortened and lengthened and added to, and twisted into various nicknames, and it amuses me sometimes to think of them.

My dad, for example, still calls me Milly, a contraction of Milly Molly Mandy, after the series of books by Joyce Lankester Brisley.

I devoured those books as a child. I loved Milly Molly Mandy in her pink-and-white striped dress, and her adventures with her pals, Little Friend Susan and Billy Blunt. I loved that there was a book with my name in it, and I borrowed the library books over and over. And when my own daughters were tiny I bought some of the books and enjoyed them once again.

At school, my friends called me Mandy, though there were some teachers and classmates who called me Amanda, just to be difficult. There was even a group of boys who called me “Miss Stevens” because a miss is as good as a mile… (But that’s a story for another day.) Or I was Mandrax, Mandibles, Mandate. 

At varsity I became Mands, which continued for a long time, although my best friend took Mands and expanded it to Mandsi-dee – a name she still uses for me today. I’ve even been Mandykins to a family I’ve known for years.

And then a few years ago I joined Twitter, at a time when I was really struggling to remember who I was, what my own dreams were, what I was meant to be. I met a whole bunch of lovely new friends, one of whom, Richard Wright, dubbed me Mandypants. And it stuck.

Now, a whole bunch of people – many of whom I haven’t even met – call me Mandypants. Or Pants. Or Pantaloon. Or just Pant, which is an in-joke for the Afrikaners. And it’s one of my favourite incarnations because it has marked a period in my life of great turmoil, but also great growth. And I’ve had to put on my big girl panties in some very serious ways, but I’ve had the support of my family and the most amazing bunch of people a girl could wish for.

But no matter what you call me, The best part is that I am more me now than I have been in decades – slightly zany, apt to impulsivity, creative, mad and a lot less risk averse than I realised in some ways. Life’s still a bit uncertain at the moment, but then isn’t it always?

Underneath it all, I may be a slightly re-imagined model, and Mandy 2.0, aka Mandypants, still has some bugs. But underneath it all, I’m still mostly Mandy, and that’s a really good place to be.


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