Saturday, March 14, 2009

Five things about five Tina's

My full name is Tina Louise Charlotte Riedel.

tina sinatra being kidnapped by a crazed joan crawford #1. Tina Louise Sinatra

My mother will tell you that I'm named after Frank Sinatra's daughter, Tina Louise, and that I should be glad for that, because the alternatives were not pretty - Camille, Bernadette, and Paul. Actually, they were so sure that I was going to pop out with a penis that they didn't bother to pick out any girl names. They considered Paula, but it didn't fit. So they argued for a week about a name. Finally, my mother proposed Tina Louise, in honor of that good catholic and patron saint of all nameless little Italian girls, St. Francis Albert Sinatra.

tina louise, the actress, with a classic 50's come hither look#2. Tina Louise

My father, were he still alive, would take you out of my mothers' earshot and tell you that he let her think that, but that I am, in fact, named after his favorite mid-50's soft porn pinup from the "gentleman's magazines", Tina Louise. Yes - the "three hour tour" one. It had a sort of twisted logic to it when you consider that they'd already used up all of their good name ideas and had started pilfering from the notorious and famous (ask my sister, Grace Marie Antoinette, or my brother, Steve Lawrence). Thankfully, Eydie Gorme Riedel was never on the table.

#3. Tina Riedel

As a friend recently pointed out, Tina Riedel is a fairly common name. I'm not the one in St. Louis, MO or Attica, NY. I've never donated over $1,000.00 to the Riedel Theater in NJ nor been associated with the Max Plank Institute (though it would be fabulously fun to impersonate this one. I'd give a lecture about how all artists should be given honorary doctorates in physics, based on their advanced knowledge of what lies underneath all things.) Finally, I'm not living a double life and jetting off to Scottsdale, AZ for the latest Meetup of the L Word group.

#4. Tina Louise Charlotte.
the weezilgrl herself, buying that ticket to heaven
My third name, Charlotte, is immediately recognizable by any other catholic (or ex-catholic, as the case is with me) as my confirmation name. This has to be a saint's name (thank god there are a bazillion of them) and you have to study up on them before you're confirmed. They are rarely chosen, however, by the child. Why did my mother choose Charlotte? Because the name she wanted, which was Charlie, was going to be a little awkward. Charlie was my mothers' childhood friend who lived across the hall from us after he was released early from prison to care for his dying mother. He'd been arrested for embezzling $100,000.00 from the company where he was an accountant. He was also my introduction to flaming queens. Even before his mother died, he was making plans to re-paper the apartment with red and white flocked wall paper (red and black in his bedroom), which he did shortly after her death. Despite his obvious preferences, my mother had a huge crush on him and her eyes would tear just talking about him. At the age of five (notice how I slipped that number in?), she told me she wished that she had never married my father and had married Charlie, instead (imagine that you hear Supertramp's "Dreamer" playing in the backround). When the opportunity came, 5 years later, to honor him, she did by choosing Charlotte, telling me that she would have liked it to be Charlie, but knew that wouldn't fly. Charlie, and my family's relationship with him over the years, could be it's own blog. I was 16 the last time I saw him. He was suffering from arthritis and had a treasure trove of drugs that he gleefully shared with my then-boyfriend, brother Stephen, and me while we drank, smoked a joint, and chatted about the good ol' days.

#5. Riedel

I'd love to believe that I'm related to the Riedel Glass dynasty in Germany, but I'll never know for sure. My grandfather was Christ Riedel and my father was Christian, just as the founder of Riedel glass is also Christian, but it's a stretch. But I have a better story than that for you about my last name. When I was 10, we moved out of Cleveland's' inner city (East Cleveland) to South Euclid, a suburb that had a large Jewish population (I was eventually named an honorary shmata sister by my friends in high school). My mother had grown up in Cleveland Heights, my father in South Euclid, and during the war, my mother was hassled for being Italian, my father, who actually dropped out of school in the 8th grade, for being 1/2 German. On the morning of my first day of school in South Euclid, my mother and I had the following conversation -

Mom: I'm so worried that you children will be picked on. I've decided to change our name.
the probably-not-my-rich-relative George Riedel
Really? Can you do that?

Of course we can. If all of you tell your teachers your new name, everyone will start to call you by it and it will just be so. Riedel (pronounced ree-del) is too German-sounding. Tell them your name is pronounced Rye-dell. They'll all think you're Jewish.

So, from that day forward, we were the Riedel (Rye-dell) family, with my father remaining the lone Riedel (Ree-del). To this day, I can tell when someone was listening during English class because they pronounce my written name the correct way, the German way, as Ree-del. You may have thought that the mangling of the english language came from lazy companies propagating bad spelling, like Donuts, but you'd be wrong. Blame it on paranoid little Italian girls who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.