Every time I find myself in a situation where I must introduce myself as Zelda, I cringe a little inside.
It’s a bit like the feeling you get when someone asks where you go to college. There’s a little bit of shame in it — a spot of hesitation, restraint, perhaps out of politeness, or just in some attempt to be subtle about the fact that you go to the best university in the world. “I go to school in Connecticut.” Then, “New Haven.” Then, finally, “Yale.”
This is what I feel every time I introduce myself.
Except that instead of feeling restraint in a mix of arrogant humiliation, I hold back because of the undeniable coolness of the name (in a sort of pity for those with boring, unmemorable names like Stephanie — my first name — long story); because of the difficulty I encounter trying to spell my name over the phone when making dinner reservations (though I can usually recover my reservation under names such as Salda or Zilba); and, most importantly, because of the fact that any male between the ages of 18 and 30 with any childhood exposure to video games will have something to say about my name.
Sometimes I just spit it out preemptively, if I sense that there will be no avoiding it with certain hooded, thumb-calloused males in their second decade or so. “Zelda, like the video game,” I announce in one fell swoop. Acknowledging it often only prompts more questions, but at least I will have avoided the awkward moment in which Boy 1 looks at Boy 2 in disbelief, as if all his videogame/anime/screen-saver/Nintendo-fingering dreams have come true.
Once we’ve acknowledged the association, I’m usually confronted with further questions like, “Did your parents name you after the videogame?” to which the answer is: No, idiot, they named me after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, whose journals are thought to have been plagiarized by her husband while he shut her up in an insane asylum. Of course, then 21-year-old Nintendo boy gets only vaguely intrigued, and I have to explain that she burnt down along with her asylum.
At this point, I’ve usually made the conversation awkward enough to fend off anybody with less than a passing interest in either me or my name. Sometimes, though, a lingering curiosity hangs in said boy’s inquisitive eyes. In order to shoot the bird dead, I must casually add that the name etymologically means “gray-haired,” as it comes from the name “Griselda,” pointing out that “gris” means “gray,” so Zelda must simply mean “hair.”
That’ll do it.
On occasion, however, I’ll meet somebody who simply will not let it go. And usually it’s not in person: it’s by e-mail, or by facebook.com, or by the simple act of poking. A merry assortment of young men near and far, quite strangers to me, have found it entertaining to request my facebook friendship to my initial surprise and subsequent understanding once I have browsed their facebook photos (in some attempt to gain recognition of an old friend) and quickly realize that confirmation-seeking John at Emory has a dog named Link.
Other surprises associated with having Zelda for a name include the fact that when I Google my name, I find past columns I’ve written linked (ha!) on various Zelda porn Web sites (both in English and German), a la Zelda-porn.net (the logic behind it is, of course, that her name is Zelda and she mentioned the topic of porn in a column: a perfect fit!).
Life is hard for a chick with a name that matches one of the best-played video games of the late ’80s. But it’s all worth it if I can just find the other two parts of the Triforce — or someone who can explain it to me.
S. Zelda Roland will be happy to divulge the secret combination of buttons that play Epona’s Song.