Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just Beth

If I could count the number of times that I've said "Just Beth," it might rival the number of times that my friend, Sarah Palin, has said "You Betchya."

Them: "Are you an Elizabeth?"
Me: "No, I'm Just Beth."

Them: "Elizabeth, right?"
Me: "Nope. Just Beth."

Them: "You must be an Elizabeth? Or a Bethany?"
Me: "Actually, I'm Just Beth."

You can imagine my surprise, many years ago, as I watched the TV show Will and Grace and witnessed Will's pal Jack throw up his jazz hands to proclaim that he was "Just Jack." How is it possible that it had never occurred to me that there were other "Justs" in the world? Not only are there Beths who are not Elizabeths, but there are Jacks who are not Johns, and, nowadays, I suppose there are quite a few Kates who are not Katherines. My "justness" is becoming less original, and oh how I've enjoyed being original.

I like my name, and I always have. Except for a brief period of time when the Merrill girls and I referred to ourselves as angels (Charlies Angels, that is... Me? Sabrina, of course.), I've been happy to be the only Beth in town. On the rare occasion that I'd come across a "Beth," I would delight in asking if she was a member of my Just Beth club. And, although I was happy to not be the Caitlyn of my generation (no offense Caitlyns - and mothers of Caitlyns), I felt a rush of adrenaline when I discovered another in my breed... like finding a lost library book or an ice cream shop that serves chocolate peanut butter cookie dough.

On too many occasions, the rush has startled people. What do they call it? A spontaneous, uncontrolled lunge? Yes, indeed, I'm a hugger. If you've told me that you are a Just Beth and if you don't look like you will do me harm, then you can bet that I've outstretched my arms and said "Give me a hug" just like your Great Aunt Delores would do. It's my initiation ritual, and if you've felt my squeeze, then you're one of my kind.

This past December, I hit the double whammy. Let me set the scene. It was Jay's company's Holiday party and we were making our way out the door when Jay stopped to chat with a co-worker. Nice co-worker man said, "I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Beth." And then it started, rapid fire... "You're Beth? I'm Beth too. Are you a Just Beth or an Elizabeth?" At this point, I can practically hear Jay saying "oh crap" in his head because he knows that I'm moving in for a hug of this perfect stranger with whom he has business connections. So, you guessed it; Beth was a Just Beth. But the story gets better. Remember? I said double whammy...

Just Beth and I continue our Just Beth chat as our hubbies commiserate, and I go on to tell her how annoying it is that loads of people, after learning that my first name is Beth and my middle initial is E, moronically ask if my middle name is Elizabeth. I'm like, seriously? Who would name their kid Beth Elizabeth? It's Beth Ellen, of course. And then, my friends, I heard the clink, clink, clink of the Just Beth Jackpot. Wait for it.... Yes, my new Just Beth friend was not Just Beth; she was my very first Just Beth Ellen! Needless to say, I went in for a second hug and Jay quickly scooted me out the door before causing further embarrassment. (Not sure if I mentioned the martinis earlier in this story... but you get the point.)

So, what is this very first blog entry all about? It's about me, silly! It's the first in many installments of who I am and what I'm all about. I'll use this forum to share stories about my life's work, and I'll use it to share my views on all kinds of topics... serious and not so much. Above all else, I'll use this blog to make connections.

As I look back on (almost) 41 years, I realize that my personal relationships fuel every part of my being. I like to belong. I like to be part of a team. I like to be liked, and loved, and included, and valued. My fellow Just Beths seem to provide that, unconditionally, and I hope that - after getting to know me on a deeper level, and realizing that I too will do you no harm - you will include me among your friends. My name is Beth Ellen McFadyen, and welcome to my blog.


  1. Beth - your blog is just beautiful! (Isn't Tera the best?!)
    Adding it to my favorites list. I look forward to reading about your trip to Guatemala this month!

  2. Your blog is a truly beauty. I so love the design, the comfort and the warmth. Have a terrific trip. Rhonda

  3. I agree! It's just lovely. The color is so soothing and just draws me in. So excited to follow you on your trip. Wishing I was going with you, but this is the next best thing!

  4. You didn't tell me in the midst of all you are wonderful at, that you are a wonderful, very engaging writer! Love ya Beth! great blog, safe trip, blessings to you. Amy Gorman