When I was six years old, I made a decision.
There was no way to have predicted its significance or lifelong impact, but this seemingly small declaration followed me to high school, college and marriage; it will eventually follow me to the grave.
My impetuous decision was not predicated on sound judgment or mature reasoning, but prompted by an expression of imagined, inextinguishable love. It also marked the first time I felt the weight of peer pressure.
It was the second week of first grade and for reasons I can’t recall, I transferred to a new school in my hometown. Across the top of each student’s desk was a name plate, perfectly printed with first, middle and last name. Students were eager to reproduce the image just as it was written, all for the sake of pleasing Mrs. Benton.
There was no middle name printed on mine.
“Robin” stood alone. Glancing around the room at all the perfectly printed middle names, I determined this was not only a mistake; it was…unacceptable.
Undaunted, I took it upon myself to complete the task my parents had only started. It wasn’t difficult for me to choose the name–I had to look no farther than Jeremy Bolt.
You might remember him better by his real name: Bobby Sherman.
In 1969, the quirky western “Here Come the Brides” was in its second (and to my dismay, last) season. I was in love with Bobby, my first love, my only love; I was certain we would marry someday. I’d sit by our record player, listen to my “With Love, Bobby” album over and over and OVER, and wonder how could “Julie, Julie, Julie” NOT love him? I lived for each new issue of “Tiger Beat” hoping my beloved Bobby was included.
His love interest on the show was played by actress Bridget Hanley. She was beautiful and smart and funny, and remarkably, I wasn’t jealous of her.
Covetous, yes, but not jealous.
Then, again, I was six.
Hanley’s character’s name was Candy Pruitt. She got to wear hoop skirts AND flirt with my one-day-to-be husband. She had it all–including the funnest name on the planet: “Candy.”
Right then, right there, I took her name as my own, too; tribute not only to the adorable woman with bows in her hair, but also to the man who would one day father my children.
I began writing “Robin Candy…” on my school papers; I doodled it everywhere (sometimes with “Sherman” as my last name, of course). As I got older, it never occurred to me to let it go, though it did occur to me to tweak it a bit. In a bid to make it sound more sophisticated (to match my own growing sophistication), “Candy” evolved into “Candice.” If asked my name, I didn’t bat an eye.
It WAS my name. I was even offended if someone spelled my fake name wrong–“Candace” sounded hard and edgy and wrong while “Candice” sounded sweet and pure and right.
It’s on my high school diploma.
It’s on my college diploma.
And, not until it appeared on our wedding invitations did my father question me about it.
“You’re STILL using that as your middle name?!”
“Well I guess we should’ve had it changed legally….”
That never occurred to me. By this point, my middle name and I were in a common law marriage.
It wasn’t until I heard from the Social Security Administration questioning “all the aliases” I used that I realized “taking” a name doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legal or recognized–or universally appreciated.
Bobby was prophetic when he sang “Easy Come, Easy Go.” Eventually our love waned and I moved on to Donny Osmond. He was the “sweet” to my “innocent” and for him I was going to convert to Mormonism and move to Utah and bear his nine children.
The evidence of pure, unadulterated first love lives on, if only in name.
And the familiar adage “don’t take Candy from strangers”? Every once in a while, there might just be an exception to the rule ;).