A Merm By Any Other Name
May 14, 2017
I call my mom “Merm” and we can probably all agree that’s a little weird. You don’t hear a lot of “Merm” out on the playground. But I have my reasons.
Growing up, we had family friends with a boy my brother’s age and a boy my age. Our parents are #bff, so the kids – Tom, Will, Jim, and I – spent a lot of time together. Now of course girls can do anything boys can do, and girl power, and equality, and all of that. But still, I was short a Y chromosome and the standard issue early 90s bowl cut – I was the odd girl out. 8 year old Jim probably would have preferred that I was an 8 year old Bill instead of a Becca, but he was a super good sport about it. And it was the boys’ spirit of inclusion that lead to “Rebequa” and eventually “Merm” – stick with me here.
Jim and I were in the same third grade class and our big project that year was to write and illustrate a book. My hardcover copy of “Lost in the Bamboo Forest” was a thrilling tale of three baby pandas getting lost in China
Jim wrote his about Tom and Will going on a fishing trip because he was a normal child who didn’t have an odd obsession with fictionalized Chinese culture. I think Jim was also in the story helping them fish or something along those lines. And being a good kid, he included me in the story too, as “Rebequa.”
Now his mom thought this was adorable and asked if Rebequa was a Native American girl welcoming the fishermen into the village to teach them how to navigate the rivers.
That would have been nice. But no, Rebequa wasn’t even a human. Rebequa was a 10 pound bass. Fast forward to the end of the book and Rebequa was a 10 pound bass that was caught and cooked for dinner. But still, I was included!(?)
In any case, the nickname “Rebequa The 10 Pound Bass” stuck for a while. Eventually 10 Pound Bass was dropped, which was good for my adolescent self-esteem because dude, that is a seriously big fish. Then it was shortened to Bequa. Then Beqa, which was better spelled Beeka. Then Beek. And then somehow Berk.
My name had gotten so mangled beyond recognition that I decided someone else in my family needed to have a weird name with misplaced Rs too. So Mom, if you were going to call me Berk, then I would call you “Merm.” Not open to discussion.
20+ years later, Merm’s new moniker has stood the test of time. And she is affectionately Merm to many good friends and casual acquaintances. We even tried to make “Grandmerm” happen for a while when Jack was born but he decided her name was “Mamoo.” The cycle of creative naming continues, and I’m totally on board.
With many thanks to Jim, apologies to China, and love to Merm,
P.S. I love you, Merm. Thank you for being kind, hilarious, generous you. You’re the best. Happy Mother’s Day!