Madeleine With the Extra E

Madeleine Prucha, Co-President

When an individual makes a noteworthy decision, it is commonplace to do so with a wealth of thought. For instance, one may pick their wedding dress because the lace detailing reminds them of that of their mothers’. A car may be selected because one’s grandpa only drove black Chevrolets, and he was the coolest. Naming a baby -a precious entity brought into the world, a miraculous product of love and God’s graciousness- that’s a process that requires some rumination, correct? At the least, a pinch of sentiment? Not something you’d name after your favorite tea time finger food?

My name is Madeleine, and I’m named after a cookie. A French butter cookie, to be specific, with a sponge-agnate texture ideal for dipping in espresso and other like-beverages. While I generally enjoy my eponym (I feel as if it’s vocation resembles a ballroom dance), it’s origins are an entity that has proved quite troublesome for me over the years. As I am named for the French cookie, I use the French spelling of Madeleine- quite similar to the traditional one, but with a scrawny little “e” shoved in between the “l” and the “i”.

Good god, do I despise that “e”. I don’t like to refer to anything as useless, but the lifeguard at the Olympic swimming pool seems to serve a greater purpose. In all my life, all 17 years of my existence, I don’t think anyone has placed that “e” in the correct place without prompting. And I don’t blame them. It’s rather unnecessary. That letter has single handedly barred me from all the personalized vacation knick-knacks, all the embossed Justice pillows and pencil cases and everything a little girl could desire. It has desecrated certificates galore, turned birthday cards to birthday slaps-in-the-face, and above all, has malaided me with a constant matter for confusion. And confuse it does.

A sidebar….if I may. The little French orphan by my same moniker, from all the children’s books and movies, goes by the Americanized spelling. What an ugly little coincidence.
So there I am, not just Madeline, but Madeleine with an extra “e”. I mention it preemptively when my title is inquired for, as I know that is the only way it will make its way to their records. A liability- I stroll through life lamenting it’s presence, with the ringing of my 8th grade religion teacher’s shrieking, “that’s my name, but with extra letters!”***

One day, I hope to be able to appreciate the uniqueness of my logography, to embody the spirit of Madeleine’s before me(I’m looking at you, L’Engle and Albright). But, until then, I’ll continue with the discomfort of correcting others’ spellings, and I’ll take comfort in the fact that I, quite spitefully, can bake a damn-good orange zest Madeleine.

***She said this every class. Once a week. For 24 straight weeks.