A few days ago I found out Deanna Roy was pregnant.
No, no, no, not me. The Deanna Roy in Nova Scotia.
Now, I’ll admit, when the status update “Deanna Roy is expecting again!” came across my Facebook feed, I did glance down at my own belly. I thought maybe the advancement of web beacons and cookies had invaded my privacy to the point that the Internet had cross-referenced and info-cached things about me that even I didn’t know.
But then I remembered, a few months ago I had managed to friend all the Deanna Roys on Facebook, just to see what we were up to. One of us is a doctor. A second runs an art gallery. Another is a financial adviser.
Growing up, my mom told me she’d come up with my name as a combination of Dee, which my dad goes by, and Anna, from a great-grandmother. I thought she was so clever to have invented an entirely new name.
Imagine my consternation in 5th grade when I met my middle school librarian, Deanna Smallwood, petite, sharp-nosed, and in her fifties. How could this be? I felt like Sidda in Divine Secrets of a Ya-Ya Sisterhood when she discovers the word vivacious wasn’t strictly about her mother Vivi. Suddenly I wasn’t original, unique, a one and only. I was part of a crowd.
Google has forged a tenuous bond among us Deanna Roys. I worried the others might be annoyed that I stole the domain that could have gone to any of us. When I first began friending my namesakes, I expected at least one to say, “So YOU’RE the version clogging up the search engines. Ranking hog.” But no one has complained, at least not to my virtual face.
I’m a big fan of Google Alerts, which sends you notifications when a new instance of a search term enters the web. In this way, I get to watch the progress of the other Deannas. Sometimes I feel like a voyeur, interested in these other lives solely by virtue of what their parents chose to call them. I also want to be the first to know if one of us gets arrested. The commingling of our names gets a little awkward when the publicity turns negative. Among the Deannas, I’m probably the greatest risk, tossing out first-person essays and questionable fiction into the world. At least when a mother phones her Deanna and shouts, “What IS this smut I just read?” I’ll know that I deserve it.
Now I get to follow along as another Deanna brings a baby into the world. Maybe I’ll send her a quick note, suggesting a doctor and even a financial guru to help manage the addition to the family. In fact, the gallery owner could probably help with art for the nursery. And why not? We definitely have a name we can trust.