For those of you who don’t know, my name is Lisa. Lisa is a very common name here in the United States. I remember in high school while walking down the halls, someone would yell out, “Lisa!” and about five girls would turn around to seek out who wanted us. It was aggravating but we figured out a system to not turn around until someone actually addressed us to our face. I also had a pen pal named Lisa Chiavaroli (the spelling of the last name is probably not correct) who lived in Brooklyn New York. We exchanged about three letters, but it was cool that we had the same first name.
However, the significance of my name is something my mother told me years ago! It’s quite interesting too. My mother was 45 years old, she already had six other children, and she was about to give birth to her seventh and last child during the summer months. My dad was 47 and he was elated that he was having a baby girl to spoil! Therefore, my mother, who was probably very tired, relaxed in her home and absorbed what most women did in the mid-1960s – watch soap operas. My mother’s favorite soap opera was “As The World Turns” (I can hear the bass voice of the announcer say those words in my head as I typed them. Did you hear it too?). My mother sat down on the couch during the afternoon hours and watched “As The World Turns” to get away from the reality that she was heavily pregnant, it was hot in the desert southwest, and probably in a few minutes, she had to deal with the rest of her children.
“As The World Turns” drew her into their drama so deeply, that she was engaged with one character; a character that took her heart. The character was Lisa. Yes…you guessed correctly. I was named after a soap opera character. Lisa was played by actress Eileen Fulton, who is now 83 years old and lives in North Carolina. The character, Lisa Grimaldi, was a blond socialite on ATWT and was Oakdale’s busybody (in everybody’s business). Fulton played Lisa for 50 years, and was so successful that she was the first soap opera star to have her own publicist! The character Lisa couldn’t stay married, or single for that matter. I don’t know how many husbands she had, but she had them! On National Public Radio (NPR), Fulton was interviewed in 2010. She retold a story of being physically hit in Lord & Taylor because a soap fan hated her! The character was hated, but my mother was intrigued with her. Although, I begin to wonder if my mother secretly hated me because she was pregnant and connected her hate for Lisa with me. I’m being overly dramatic, aren’t I?
Anyway, in the interview, Fulton gave a wonderful response to a statement in the NPR interview that I’d like to relay in this blog:
“Well, the world was a different place when Lisa came into it. You were a working professional, although the character you were creating was struggling with her place in the world as a woman.” Fulton’s response: “I think that’s why think so many people named their children Lisa. I was very surprised when I went on the road years ago to find this out. It was the beginning of feminism—women taking up for themselves and going out into the world. Lisa became a businesswoman. She stuck up for herself. She was not somebody to be trampled on.”
Wow! What a statement! Do I dare believe that my mother named me for that reason? Did she believe that one day, her little Lisa would be a strong woman, who would stick up for herself, not allow herself to be trampled on, and become a businesswoman? Did my mother admire the character Lisa so much that she decided to name her baby in hopes that I would become a strong, independent woman? Did my mother looked past the character’s faults and saw that she had some redeeming qualities? All that I know is that my mother named me after her favorite character in a soap opera, and she never did say why she was her favorite, or at least I don’t remember. But, I’m hoping that I was named Lisa because of Fulton’s response.
I am no drama queen, but at 52, I’m hoping to become the woman my mother had always dreamed about.
Thanks Momma for naming me, Lisa.