Becoming Mercedes Milici 001a
By any other name
by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

My elder brother called me DeeDee.
I didn’t know I had another name, more formal,
until I started school. Then I had one
used only by family, and one used officially,
although no one agreed on pronunciation
so I could be MERsideez, or MerSAYdeez,
MerSEEDeez or MERseedeez. If my parents,
who said MerSEEDeez, ever used it I knew
I was in big trouble.

My middle name is Jean, for my grandmother.
I discovered she’d been named Jane, but changed it
when someone called her “Plain Jane.”
I changed my Jean back to her Jane for a while.

At my first sophisticated cocktail party
I was introduced to an older woman, who said
“What a lovely name. Did you make it up yourself?”
and totally silenced me. I still sometimes wake up
with the perfect retort on my tongue.

For a while I sounded like an Italian actress
when I married Gary Milici. Divorced,
I reverted to my birth name.

“Mercedes Jean Webb-Pullman” didn’t fit
on many forms, so when I married again
and took the surname Saw, I thought
confusion would end, but no. Somehow
that was worse. People were always waiting
for the rest of it.

Friends called me Murk, or Benz
and I still answer to both. Add them
to different combinations of
DeeDee Mercedes Jean Jane
Webb-Pullman Milici Saw
and I can find almost any fortune
with Numerology, even though I know
they’re all just symbols, stand-ins
for me. I usually call myself
You Fool, You Flaming Idiot,
and sometimes, when things go right,
You Little Beauty!

PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Milici and bride Mercedes on their wedding day, December 1979.


Mercedes Webb-Pullman
graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and the odd short story have appeared online and in print, in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, poetryrepairs, Connotations, The Red Room, Otoliths, Cliterature among others, and in her books Food 4 Thought, Numeralla Dreaming, After the Danse, Ono, Looking for Kerouac, Tasseography, Bravo Charlie Foxtrot and Collected poems 2008 – 2014. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. Visit her at