What’s in a name?

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By Misty Fritz

As names go, Misty isn’t exactly rare, but it’s far from popular these days; it peaked as the 75th most popular girls’ name in the 1970s and dropped off drastically (to 472) in the 1990s, then disappeared almost completely in the 2000s. Even though it was still fairly popular when I was a kid in the late 1980s, meeting another Misty was a rare occurrence.

I remember the first time it happened. I was about 6 or 7 years old, and my dad had taken me swimming out at Gillespie’s New Lake (this would have been back in the very early 1990s, when the beach was still open for swimming). I met another girl there, about my age, who I believe was camping with her family, and we bonded over having the same name.

There have been a few others over the years. I’m not the only Misty in Gillespie, but the others I know of locally are older than me, so I think I might be the youngest.

Now, the internet makes it a little easier to find others with the same name. For several years, Google seemed to think there was only one other Misty Fritz in the world — an arm wrestling champion about five years younger than me who lives in Nebraska. Now, Facebook shows there are more than two dozen just on that platform.

As many people do, I’ve gone back and forth over the years about whether or not I like my name. It’s short and simple — all told, my full name is only 14 letters long — so it was easy to learn to spell and write as a kid. I never had the problem many my age did of being one of several in a classroom with the same name, so I was never relegated to being Misty F. just to differentiate myself. There have been times I thought it was too simple and wanted something fancier or with more character or even just a little bit longer.

Many times I’ve wished for a name that came with options — something like Elizabeth, which I could leave long or shorten to Liz or Lizzie or Liza or Ellie or Elle or Beth or so any of the many other choices that come with that name. Misty has… Misty, or maybe Mist, but does that even count? Of course, even though it’s a simple name, there are still people who, no matter how many times they’ve met me or how many years they’ve known me, insist on calling me Missy or Mitsy/Mitzi. (Please don’t.)

There’s one reason I’m thrilled to have the name I do, though: 12 years ago this month (March 4, 2005, to be exact), it led me to my first interaction with a person who has since become one of my best friends, though we’ve only met in person twice. Her name? Misti.

We met when we were both sophomores in college, through an online LiveJournal community called MetaQuotes where there was a lively discussion about spelling variations of names (because we’re nerds like that). I still have the link to our first conversation saved. We realized in that conversation that we had a lot in common, added each other as friends on that website, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Misti and I finally met in person when she drove from Oklahoma to visit me in 2010 (we’d been friends for just over five years at that point), and last year when I got a new car, practically the first thing I did with it was drive out to visit Misti and her husband, Adam, in Tulsa two days later. I’m not going to let there be such a large gap before our next visit.