It’s true: Dani is an unusual name for a girl. And before you ask, No, it’s not short for Danielle, No, my parents were not planning on naming me Danny had I been a boy, Yes, I actually happen to like my name. Working in a restaurant has made me revisit this same conversation countless times with countless strangers. Why? Because our host staff lets the guest know who their server will be before we get there. As a result, I inevitably encounter one of three different reactions when I approach any table. Either 1), the guests ignore my name and proceed with their order (ideal!), 2) the guests inquire as to the spelling and/or authenticity of my name (is that a nickname?), or 3) the guests inform me that I have already failed to meet their expectations (we thought you were gonna be a boy!).

Once for all, I DON’T CARE!! I don’t care what you thought I was going to be. This is who I am. Deal with it. And while we’re on the subject, why is it ok for you to tell me what you thought I would be? You wouldn’t dare say to a total stranger, “We thought you were going to be white!” or “We thought you were gonna be fat!” or “We thought you would be attractive!” Why tell me you thought I would be a boy? How am I supposed to respond to that? Should I apologize?

“I’m sorry but I don’t actually have a penis, per se. I’ve been thinking about getting one but I just can’t decide which one I’d want. I mean, I’m not really sure what size or shape I’d want, you know, longer or thicker, and then there’s the issue of getting used to something new and I’m not big on change, really. ANYway, would you all like to start off with some Spinach Dip?”

Typically I reign in my smart-ass and mutter something about exceeding their expectations or something else equally cheesy. A few days ago, however, my filter must have slipped a little because the following conversation took place:

Me: Hello, welcome to _____, my name is Dani, I’ll be taking care of you today.

Ignorant Old Woman: Did you say your name was Dani?

M: Yes, ma’am.

IOW: (confused) Dani, huh? Now is that your real name?

M: (mischievously) No, ma’am. It’s my stage name.

IOW: (more confused) Your stage name? Are you in theatre?

M: You could say that… I dance, mostly.

IOW: Oh how wonderful! Harold and I simply love going to shows like that!

M: Do you…

(Later, after I dropped off their check with my “stage” name clearly printed at the top…)

IOW: Look at that! They even printed your stage name right on the ticket!

M: Yes, ma’am. My managers are very supportive of my night job.

IOW: How wonderful for you.

P.S. Her Ignorant Old Husband was giving me funny looks all during their meal. It appeared as though he was trying to figure out what club he might’ve seen me in…and if I’d tell his wife about his extra-curricular sextivities. I love my job.

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