2. What's in a Name - Part 1
I am a freak. I have to admit it. I just am.
Perhaps I could not help myself.
After all, it's in my name.
You American gals may say cool, and what's the trouble with that.
But you see - I am not American. I am German. And in Germany people simply are not called Dawn or Galadriel, or, for that matter, Lothíriel.
If you have a baby, you have to go to the registry office to get the name for the baby properly registered and a nice, stamped document to prove it. The nice officer of the registry office asks the new parents or parent what the child's name shall be. You tell him the name you have chosen and then he takes out a huge book, or nowadays sits down at his computer and looks up the name to check if it is a name you may use. You may not call your child after things like Heaven, Dawn or Sun. You may not choose just any fictional name. Some fictional names have a historical tradition. You may choose those – like Arthur, or Siegfried, or Edda.
Others are no go.
You may guess to which category Lothíriel belonged.
No go, of course.
My mother had a screaming fit and called the officer of the registry office several very rude names and left.
As far as she was concerned, it was Lothíriel or nothing.
My mother is an independent woman.
A single parent and proud of it.
She left the registry office and went straight to a lawyer.
The lawyer wrote to the registry office and claimed that Lothíriel was a perfectly normal name.
It isn't, even today.
The registry office replied that the name was not in the books or the files on their computer.
I could not be named Lothíriel. There was no such name.
My mother grew angry.
And my mother had money.
You need money for lawyers and courts. Her parents, my grand-parents had left her a lovely estate and quite a fortune. Creature comforts like that tend to make it easier to be an independent woman and a proud single parent.
She told the lawyer to go ahead.
The lawyer was enchanted and did exactly that.
I was lucky in the way that while Lothíriel was an unusual name and not on the lists, it was not on the black list of names, which are supposed to be harmful to children because of guaranteed harassing later in life (e.g. "Goofy" or "Donald-Duck").
The lawyer was sure he could win the case, and perhaps the lovely woman behind it.
The case went to court.
The court was the small town court of the first instance. The judge had never heard of Tolkien or "The Lord of the Rings". He ruled against Lothíriel and asked my mother to have me registered with a normal name. She did not. In the end, the judge ordered the registry office to put me down as "Anna". My mother refused to call me Anna.
And lost again.
In the end there was only the Supreme Court left to appeal to.
It may come as a surprise, but there is a constitutional right in the German constitution, which is about liberty. Article 2, paragraph 1 of the German constitution, the Grundgesetz, states that everyone has the right to freely develop his or her personality (that is, to do whatever you want), if he/she does not infringe on the rights of others or violates the constitutional order (meaning the constitution and every other law, right down to the regulations about what is a name and what is not a name at the registry office) or the moral standards.
More "if" than "liberty", at first glance.
But every regulation which infringes on your constitutional rights has to be reasonable and has to adhere to certain standards. And the Supreme Court has to examine these requirements.
In my case, it was found that prohibiting the use of Lothíriel as a first name for a girl-child was not reasonable.
Perhaps the judge responsible for my case liked "The Lord of the Rings". Or perhaps his daughter wanted to call her first child after her favourite fictional character, Lancelot.
Maybe he just liked the sound of my name.
It is, after all, quite a melodic name.
Whatever the reason, in 1982, I was finally granted the right to be called "Lothíriel".
We had spent one and a half years in different courts.
In 1982 these were the results of my mother's toils and troubles:
Several articles had been written about me, and had been published in various tabloids and magazines. My mother had given two or three interviews on TV-shows and had been offered a contract to write a book about women and liberty. Friends of my mother had held a "sit-in" at the registry office. The officer who had objected to me being Lothíriel in the first place resigned. I think he left the country.
And last but not least, there is half a page about me and my name in one of the fat black books in which all the decisions of the German Supreme Court are collected. If you want to have a look at it, you can find it using this abbreviation: BVerfG E 59, 278.
As for me, I did not care.
I learned how to walk at ten months. When I was finally, officially, Lothíriel, my ability to speak included "no", "mama", "want", "judge" and "cat". And "papa" was the nice lawyer, who spent so much time with us.
My name was of no concern to me.
Perhaps it should have been.
I like my name.
I learned how to pronounce it correctly when I was two and an English girl came to live with us and take care of me. Jenny was from York in Yorkshire. She was fair-haired and blue-eyed and had a beautiful accent. And, which was most important: she taught me how to pronounce the English "th", which is the one thing in the English language German people really have trouble with.
When I was three, I was sent to kindergarten. At first I thought they wanted to tease me, when they kept calling me Losíriel. But contrary to the conviction of the registry office, I never met anyone who ridiculed my name. I did, however, encounter many persons, who could for the love of little apples not pronounce my name correctly.
More often than not, I remained "Losíriel".
It could have been worse.
After all, my mother could have come up with the idea of calling me after Ann McCaffrey's dragons and their riders. And those are difficult enough in English to pronounce correctly, let alone in German.
Anyway, I grew up quite unconcerned about my name.
But somehow, I guess, my name nevertheless influenced my life from the very beginning.
Can you grow up into a completely ordinary person with an extraordinary name and a framed decision of the Supreme Court hanging on the wall above your bed?
Perhaps it is possible.
But it did not really work for me.
I had finished school with excellent results and had gone on to university straight away.
As my first experiences with law and order had been quite commendable, and as I loved my step-father, the lawyer, dearly, I studied law.
I was good at it.
I hated it.
What was worse, I was too good at it to simply drop it and do something else.
Now the last long summer holidays before the final exams in spring drew close.
I knew that I should spend the holidays with my books and keep my walks to the three times a week I had to go to the expensive preparatory course for my final exams I had booked at a prestigious repetitorium.
But this very morning I got up, packed my backpack and walked out of the apartment I shared with a friend of mine without saying where I was off to.
One more day of those damn books and those damn walls, and I would have started screaming, I thought, walking away from the city on a narrow country lane, enjoying the sunshine.
I love walking.
I have loved walking, since I first read about rangers in "The Lord of the Rings" and my mother explained to me, who I was named for.
I was disappointed at first that she had not named me after an elvish princess.
But I did like the idea of being a ranger.
Ranger, Dúnadan - words, which have the ring of freedom.
I had the name to go with them.
And a framed certificate of liberty backing me up.
I cannot remember when, but at some time in my teenaged agonizing I promised myself a summer of freedom. One summer to spend ranging, walking hidden paths – just leaving my place with no aim and only a handkerchief!
A whole summer of it.
I had never dared to do that, even though I knew you should never break a promise, especially one you made to yourself.
Until this very morning, when I felt that I could not bear it any longer.
I smiled at myself.
Finally I would live up to my name.
Lothíriel, ranger, Dúnadan; finally free!
Finally on the road to her destiny!
A/N: Don't check the decisions of the German constitutional court. I made that decision up, although the book I refer to really contains the decisions of 1982.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.