One Size Does Not Fit This
The head secretary for one of the schools I regularly sub for is a little Hispanic lady. She’s shorter than I am, and I’m about five foot two, trim, with short grey/black hair and glasses. She’s got a confident voice and a direct gaze; she strides with assurance as well. She’s a coach of some sort; she often wears sweat suits with her name embroidered on the chest. I interact quite a bit with her because the head secretary is who the subs report to; she gives out the keys and the rolls. She knows me by name by now, but for the life of me I can’t call her by her first name: Bertha.
I really don’t like the name. It sounds whalish to me, like some TV addict who’s just growing into the couch and who never eats anything but potato chips and Pepsi. That couch Bertha, in my mind, has bright red hair and tiny glasses and is always referring to everyone as “Hon”. I see her at family reunions in the corner of the room, blobbing into the tiny crevices of the paint, like that salt play-doh my mom used to make for us: slimy, not quite pleasant, a weird greenish-bluish, with a briny taste to it.
This oozing Bertha is all imaginary; I’ve never met anyone this grotesque. But that’s what the name makes me think of. Because the real Bertha is so contrary to this mind’s eye, I just don’t want to call her by her name. I’ve gotten around it; I manage to be friendly without being awkward (“Hey… you.”) and it even feels funny sometimes, those two contrasting mental pictures overlapping each other. But… Bertha?!