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Presenting Paprika

Shakespeare had it right when he asked, “What’s in a name?” Such a simple question with such a complicated answer because so much of your identity is tied to your name. Trying to choose a new name for myself as an adult has been a more daunting task than I had imagined. As a child, I had no trouble picking a new name and pretending to be someone else while playing. In high school, I had to choose a new identity in my foreign language classes. Since those names had to be Spanish and German it narrowed the field and made for a much faster selection process.  It was fun to be someone else for 84 minutes every day, but after back to back foreign language classes, I had a daily identity crisis. My next identity crisis came this past winter when friends were trying to coax me to sign up for Facebook. I know I am behind the times not having a Facebook page, but I can barely stand the minutiae of my own life and wouldn’t be able to tolerate reading about someone else’s. Then there is the fact that I don’t want everyone I have ever met to come knocking on my virtual door. For this last reason, my persistent friends suggested using an alias which would only be shared with a select few. Once again, I found myself in the position of trying to find a new name.

Several evenings were spent combing through websites listing  girls’ names that could potentially be my online identity. By the time I got to the C’s I knew I was in trouble. How could I pick a new name for myself? The possibilities were limitless and the prospect of reinventing myself should have been freeing; yet, somehow, it wasn’t. Each name I considered carried with it some preconceived notion or image and none of those seemed to fit. It was like being in the world’s biggest shoe store with every shoe at my disposal and not liking a single one. Convinced that my new name was somewhere on that list I continued through the alphabet.  The further I got, the more I realized that I really do like my given name and it suits me. While that was a lovely moment of self actualization, it didn’t solve the problem of finding my online persona. In the end, I resolved that I was happy being me and chose to live vicariously through my husband’s Facebook page.

Recently, I decided to start blogging. I want to keep my professional name separate from my blogging which puts me back in the market for a new name. The search began again, but this time I took a different approach using plays on synonyms for pseudonym. Names like Naomi DePlume and Sue Dunnim made the short list, but ultimately just weren’t me. One night, I was sharing this existential conundrum with my husband who responded without a moment’s hesitation, “How about Paprika Furstenburg?”

Stunned at hearing such a ridiculous sounding name, I turned to him and said, “Who’s that? Some stripper you met in college?”

“No, she’s not a stripper. I made it up,” he said plainly.

“You just made it up now or have you been holding on to that name waiting for the right occasion to use it?” I asked.

“I just made it up sitting here. And, that’s Furstenburg with a u,” he said for clarification.

“Of course it is.” I replied. “You’ve even considered the spelling. Seriously, how did you come up with a name like that off the top of your head?” I persisted.

Finally, he confessed that he was thinking of the last name of an actor I like.

I thought about that for a moment and a name popped into my head. “Mark Feuerstein? You got Furstenburg, with a u, from Feuerstein?” I asked incredulously.

Surprised, my husband looked at me and said, “His name is Feuerstein? I thought it was Furstenburg.”

“Let’s leave the origin of the surname for a moment. Where did Paprika come from? Were you trolling in the spice rack earlier today? Is this what happens when I ask for help in the kitchen?” I asked, still intrigued at his creation of such an odd combination. 

“I was just trying to think of a name that sounded good with Furstenburg and Paprika worked. Plus, your hair is almost the color of paprika,” he said, trying to be charming.

Clearly, these questions were causing him to do some unanticipated deep analysis of his spur of the moment utterance. 

I couldn’t let this go, “Why Paprika? Why not rosemary, oregano or cumin?”  I mentally took inventory of my spice rack.

“Rosemary is already a girl’s name so that’s not very original. Oregano sounds like a boy and cumin is just awful as a name,” he said indignantly.

So, I’m ridiculous? He thinks I should be named after a Jewish spice and I’m the one who is ridiculous! Should I choose this quirky name? It’s certainly memorable, but is she really me? A few months have passed since that night and the short list of possible pseudonyms dwindled. After each contender was eventually scratched off the list, my mind returned to Paprika Furstenburg and how she came to be. The silliness of it makes me laugh.  As it turns out, what’s in a name is a spice and a mispronunciation of someone else’s last name, but somehow it fits me perfectly.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

18 responses »

  1. And to think; I REALLY knew you when…

  2. The blog about the raft trip was brilliant, thanks for being a great writer. Its not often that a raft guide gets such a good description of what goes on in peoples minds when they come rafting here.
    It was great having you on the raft and I’m glad you had such a good time that you could write about it.

  3. Good humor and good writing…I think Paprika’s a natural!

  4. Enjoyed the new blog….gives a whole new meaning to making donations! Personally, I prefer bake sales!

  5. Bravissima ! Geat blogging and a pleasure to read !

    P.S. Has Oregano (your husband’s new nickname) ever been to Germany? Cause the name he suggested is a lot closer to Furstenberg (very good German beer) than your actor guy. For certain things men have an excellent memory :o)

  6. You are a wonderful and funny writer!! Keep up the good work!! looking forward to many more hours of laughter!!

  7. OK – this really made me LOL. It does create a problem for me, however. I can never look at you and call you by your real name anymore (what WAS your real name anyway?).

  8. Bunny Mateosian

    You are such a charming writer. Looking forward to more of your thoughts and musings! Bunny

  9. You are the best storyteller that I know. Looking forward to many more humorous tales.

  10. Welcome!!! Can’t wait to read more! I had a smile on my face the whole time!

  11. Nicole Daniel

    Love it Paprika……great to have you join us in the world. Looking forward to reading more of your spicey stories (Sorry for the bad pun. That is why you are the blogger) lol!!!!!

  12. Loving that we ALL can laugh with each other. Really cute story… Looking forward to many more anecdotes… 🙂

  13. I love the name and I got the Paprika origin immediately! Glad I made the list.

  14. Great! I tried to come up with a pseudonym to leave under the “name” section but nothing was working, so I’ll remain as I’ve been for 47 years. Meanwhile, you can explore the world with your new alter ego and we can follow along.


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