My Name Is…

19 Oct


Recently, I had the pleasant surprise of coming across my name in not one, but two books I happened to be reading. I don’t believe this has ever occurred in my life.

My name is Larissa, and I’ve only met three people with my name. Ever. One of those was when I was a little girl and have no memory of it, though I did get a really sweet purple shirt with my/her/our name on it out of our encounter. The second occurrence was at a multi-high school retreat (a Bible conference for you Adventists out there); the third, a co-worker during my years at the local grocery store in my hometown. That was a bizarre experience for the both of us – we weren’t used to having to clarify which Larissa someone was referring to.

According to the Social Security Administration, the year I was born (1984), the top 10 most popular girls names were, in order: Jennifer, Jessica, Ashley, Amanda, Sarah, Stephanie, Nicole, Melissa, Heather, and Elizabeth. That same year, my name was the 457th most popular name, which I find absolutely shocking. Larissa was the 363th most popular name in 1994, the highest it has been in 30 years. In 2009, it was 759th. (And yes, the most popular name in 2009 was Isabella – we have the Twilight books/movies to thank for that one.)

What this means is that when I was a little girl, anytime I came across one of those displays with crappy keychains or pencils or whatever that had various names on them, I never found my name. As a kid, this made me really sad, but now I’m glad I’m not one of 425,298 Megans (apparently that’s how many Megans have been born since 1880 [source]). No offense to you Megans, of course.

If you were curious, the name Larissa means, “cheerful one” derived from the Latin word “hilaris” (source). It’s apparently popular in Russia.

I did get tired (and still do) of spelling my name EVERY time I met someone. L-A-R-I-S-S-A. Pronounced la-RISS-ah. It’s not rocket science; it’s spelled pretty much how it sounds. It’s not Carissa, Marissa, Clarissa, Melissa; it’s Larissa, you idiot. Nevertheless, when I’m at a coffee shop and they ask me my name, I wearily answer “Melissa.” And no questions asked.

The two books I read where my name appeared was “Star Island” by Carl Hiaasen and “Sharp Shooter” by Nadia Gordon. I highly unrecommend the first but very much recommend the second.

In “Star Island,” Larissa is a fictional American Idol contestant wandering Los Angeles throughout the story, generally partying her brains out. In “Sharp Shooter,” Larissa is the British girlfriend of a murdered man and a suspect in the mystery for a bit. I wouldn’t mind being a pop superstar or British, but what can you do.

Surprisingly, my name does pop up in various other places. For instance, Larissa is a city and capital in Greece (source), and is apparently a figure in Greek mythology (source). Larissa is also the 5th closest moon to Neptune (source). Larissa is also a saint who was martyred; she is commemorated on March 26 (source). I think I’m about to start a new holiday!

My name recently made headlines this past June when Larissa Riquelme, a lingerie model, said she would run naked through the streets of Paraguay if they won the World Cup (source).

Perhaps the greatest use of my name that I’ve come across was in the movie “Troy” and when I was watching the movie when the scene below occurred, you bet your buns I started screaming. It’s nice to know if I ever run into Brad Pitt, he’ll know how to pronounce my name correctly.


4 Responses to “My Name Is…”

  1. Leila Gough October 19, 2010 at 7:56 PM #

    Then there’s Leila… not Lila, Lela, Laila… but Leila.. no key chains either… see you Saturday?

  2. Suze October 19, 2010 at 8:02 PM #

    You were/are/always have been aptly named. This blog entry brought back many memories and was very informative for all things Larissa, particularly my #1 fav Larissa. Great read!

  3. Hilary October 19, 2010 at 9:05 PM #

    I also had no keychains, having grow up before the Clinton years and an apparent increase in the name ‘Hillary.’ My mother has yet to recover. Then I endured 8 years of “where is Bill?” followed by incredibly snarky comments about the Lewinsky scandal. My name means cheerful, too. And at Starbucks I have been everything from “Hellry” to “Hilaria.” Great blog and a great name.

  4. Cammie October 27, 2010 at 8:51 AM #

    I hear ya! I’ve only met one Cambria, and she was only named that because a friend of my mom’s told her mom about my name (confusing, I know). I’ve only gotten a quarter or so through Star Island. Your unrecommendation worries me. I’ve always enjoyed his other stuff!

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