I remember the first time I made headlines.
I drew the magazine from a pile of bills and holiday cards, its glossy cover winking at me in the dim light of the foyer. Stunned, I held it at arm’s length, then just inches from my unbelieving eyes. There was no mistaking the bold pink type stamped across an almost familiar-looking grin:
“EMMA ROBERTS, NEW TEEN QUEEN!”
Your move, Nancy Drew.
You may have noticed that I share a first and last name with a certain, uh, celebrity. I guess that’s what we’re calling her these days? I’m sure she’s a lovely person. Actually, I bet she sucks. Dubious “It Girl” status notwithstanding, I can’t help but believe that the only remarkable thing about Emma Roberts is her connection to everyone’s favorite Pretty Woman, a true talent who used her celebrity to volley a fame-hungry niece into the public eye. And subsequently into my foyer. But I’m not bitter.
I was born first. Just saying.
Sharing a name with a second-tier celebrity is only sporadically inconvenient, undeserving of a snappy, formulated response. Instead, I spent my teen years humorlessly defending my identity to the cashier at Blockbuster, a relationship already made complicated by our ongoing war over the price of Raisinets.
“Just these, thanks.”
“Did you know that you can add another box of candy for only—”
“Yeah, you tell me that every time I buy my Raisinets here. I’m good with just the one.”
“Well, if you buy them a lot, why don’t you just buy two now and save one for—”
“It’s a mental thing, okay? I don’t want to deal with the fact that I’m going to do this again next week.”
“Oh. Um, okay. Cash or—?”
“Okay. Ha! Your name is Emma Roberts!”
This exact exchange unfolded on a weekly basis. For the record, I once tried to actually purchase two boxes of candy. Emboldened by defiance, I marched up to that smarmy cashier with a grin on my face, itching to catch him without a retort at last.
“These two, please. The two-for-$3 deal.”
“Did you know that you can double that purchase and get four boxes of candy for only $5?”
He had won. I ate my two boxes of Raisinets back-to-back while watching the lesser Emma Roberts in Aquamarine.
These days, I can scarcely make a restaurant reservation without getting an audible side-eye in response, but the desire to escape my name long outdates my identity thief’s rise to celebrity. On the first day of second grade, a Scooby-Doo obsession prompted me to assume an alias. It wasn’t until Back-to-School Night, when my parents found themselves being ushered to “Velma”s tiny desk, that they discovered my secret and put an end to the charade. Five years later, I received a slap on the wrist for denoting on an official form that my name was “Emma Robberts” (double consonants have character!). A more gratifying moment came during high school, when a substitute teacher paused mid-roll call and uttered without an ounce of recognition, “EE-muh ROE-berts?”
I’ll take it.
I’ve found ways to make peace with the name I’ve always found so uninspiring. My middle name now gilds all personal and professional accounts. Emma Aubry Roberts. Like Sarah Jessica Parker. Sarah Parker—now there is a girl who feels my pain. Then there’s Embry, my Sasha Fierce-style alter ego, a bad bitch equally at home in dive bars and job interviews (and the author of every regrettable text I’ve ever sent). I considered formally adopting the pseudonym – my mother, of all people, suggested it – but I couldn’t bring myself to go quite so far in pursuit of a unique identity.
So here I am. Emma Aubry Roberts: Three Names, One Sassy Gal™. Google “Emma Aubry Roberts” and you might even be able to scrape a full page of results before She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (But-Has-And-Annoyingly-So) creeps back in. If I cannot commit to a hair color, I can at least honor my parents by bringing glory to my three names. Embry Auberts is welcome on Saturday nights, but it’s all me come Sunday morning.
Do you like your name?