If your name is Jennifer, Jessica, Sarah, Ashley, Nicole, Melissa, Christina, Rebecca, or Amy, it is likely I’ve felt a very brief yet intense moment of hatred for you. This was in the 90s standing in front of the personalized gift stand in any store or highway rest stop.
“Oooh, personalized bookmarks!”
“OOOH, personalized license plates for my bicycle!”
None of them ever had my name, but I watched as all of the Rebeccas and Sarahs and Ashleys did their homework using personalized pencils, while me and another girl named Patrice forlornly used yellow No. 2s. As a consolation prize or probably just to passive-aggressively adhere to the school rules that said everything must be labeled, my dad took a box of my Dixon No. 2s into his workshop and used some sort of crazy teeny tiny drill to engrave my name into every single one of my pencils.
Let’s be clear here. Ashley had rainbow gradient pencils with her name in cursive on them. Mine looked like I carved into them with a shank while in prison.
In a distant land, Jack was also growing up in the 90s. We hadn’t yet met, but I just imagine he was wearing bright green Umbros and playing with GI Joes all day long. Before – I don’t know – 2000? – when Jack became a popular stand-alone name, Jack was always the nickname for John. Got a friend named Jack? His real name is John. One or two people have tried to fight me on this “all Jacks are Jacks and Johns are short for Jonathan” but I’m pretty sure those people also eat Pop-Tarts without heating them, so I’ve made it a blanket rule to not trust their judgment.
So, up until the time all the Aidens, Caydens, Jadens, and Bradens were born and will sometime in the near future rule the world with their -aden armies, John was the most popular name. If your name was John Smith, you were kind of screwed, because there are about 50 million (not an exact estimate) John Smiths in the world, so John Smiths would come up with crazy nicknames for themselves to stand out.
“HE’S NOT T-BONE, I’M T-BONE!!!”
Anyway, Jack could always find something personalized for himself. John keychain! John license plate! John bookmark! John protective athletic cup! ”What is this, a notebook without my name on it? TIS FOR THE PEASANTS!” while I was getting slivers in my thumb from Black Market No. 2s.
Now it seems like many of those pre-stamped personalized gifts are a little bit outdated, because I’m not sure these brands could keep up with the fourteen variations of Ariana or Isabella that the world has to offer. I’ve contributed to the chaos with my own children’s names. Their future:
“It’s Remmy with two ms and a y. Not one m and an ie.”
“Uh, it’s Sophie. It’s not Sophia. No, Sophie’s not short for Sophia.”
“Minnie. Minnie like the mouse. Yeah, my real name is Mirabel, but everyone calls me Minnie. No, not Maribel. MI-RA-BEL.”
Thankfully, Stuck on You (they are international, y’all) emailed me and was like, “Roo, we’re concerned that you might try to carve your kids’ names into their lunch boxes with a rusty knife, which is neither sanitary nor is it sane. Here, look at all of the things that we can personalize for you, and your kids don’t have to grow up with whatever weird complex is ailing you today.” Bless them.
Stuck on You has the cutest personalized lunch boxes, backpacks, water bottles, puzzles, and labels for all of the things. I let Remmy and Sophie pick out their own water bottles (Remmy chose a pony, Sophie chose a ballerina, I picked Minnie’s out for her), and I noticed two things. 1) The thrill of having your name on something is very cool. 2) This cut down all of the “NO THAT IS MY PLATE” fights.
I would now like to have personalized cutlery, dinner plates, and drinking glasses so there’s no shirts-off-kitchen-wrestling over who used the striped cup last, KWIM? You can stick all of the little labels on notebooks, binders, sports gear, and everything that teachers and instructors ask that you label. I was using a Bic pen to write Remmy’s name on the inside of her ballet shoes, which worked for a solid two weeks.
(Note: Kids who are old enough to be out and about by themselves should be aware that personalized items that are out in the open may invite an unsavory character to pretend that he is a family friend, so please make your tweens + teens aware of that.)
And if your name is Jennifer, Jessica, Sarah, Ashley, Nicole, Melissa, Christina, Rebecca, or Amy, please forgive me. I didn’t really hate you. I was just jealous of all of your personalized items, and probably that your mom allowed you to crimp your hair.
Disclosure: This blog post has been sponsored by Stuck on You.