Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Yam What I Yam by Jenny Gardiner

When I was first married and took on the surname of my husband, I often got quizzical looks when I met new people.

“Jenny Gardiner,” they’d say as they shook my hand. “That name sounds familiar.”

Of course I knew why it was memorable. Because everybody knew I had been blown up in a ski boat a few years earlier while my beloved husband--the intended target--watched helplessly from the shore. I was the hapless victim of my former fiancé, a fellow supermodel. Well, not really. This was on a soap opera. All My Children, circa 1984: I was one half of the star-crossed couple that enjoyed very little bliss, wedded or otherwise, over their tortured four-year courtship.

Sometimes having a common name can lead to uncommon problems. A couple of years ago a friend was on his way to an elegant wedding when he was pulled over by the police. Seems a routine run of his license plate revealed that he shared the name of a local criminal with a number of warrants out for his arrest. My friend, wedding-bound and attired in black-tie, sat nervously in his car with his entire family until the gun-wielding cop could ascertain that he was not the felon in question.

Nowadays, I enjoy the many alter-egos I never knew I had with the help of my search engine of choice, Google.

Originally I Googled myself to find out if someone owned my domain name. As a writer, I thought it might be useful to own it outright. I was dismayed to learn that I am already owned, by an androgynous minister of Parliament in Australia. Damn, it’s bad enough that I can’t own my own name, but now when my readers (all five of them), or worse-yet old boyfriends (!) Google me, the first thing they’re going to pull up is a picture of an impossible-to-discern man/woman who might just send them running for cover.

Once I clicked onto Jenny-the-androgynous-one, I became hooked. I had to see what else I’ve been up to in this world. And I’ve learned Jenny Gardiner is quite the talented woman. I am a Scots fiddle tutor somewhere in Scotland (I assume that’s where Scots fiddlers fiddle.) I’m also an actress, whose 2003 blockbuster film, Queen City Blowout--with the lamentable tagline: Drugs, Death and Bratwurst--may well have been direct-to-video. I just hope it’s not hard-core porn. It’s bad enough that people already think I’m a man.

So what other crazy things have I been up to? Well, for starters, I’m the assistant treasurer and uniforms coordinator of the Saint Mary’s Old Girls Netball Club (affectionately dubbed SMOG) in Wellington. I am pretty certain that netball is like basketball, and I think this is somewhere in New Zealand. It looks like a sport I might enjoy as they wear these adorable tennis-style skirts instead of gym shorts. Must be because I’m in charge of coordinating uniforms and all. Oh, and the upside, based on the pictures from their website: it’s a very good looking group of women. At least I’ve made up for the whole androgyny thing.

Some of my other skills include mixology. I got a rave review for a mean white sangria I concocted at an art-gallery-turned-chic-café in Portland, Maine. My secret ingredient? A wine-poached pear. Evidently the double-maceration does wonders to boost the buzz in the punch.

Onward, though, as I have careers and alter-egos awaiting. Library media teacher at the Terman Library in, oh, darn, I’ll never know where, because Google couldn’t find it. Well, it did indicate that the library might be closed due to budget constraints, so I guess I got the axe.

My husband Robin and I (I have a husband named Robin? Wait till my own spouse hears about that) evidently have naughty cats who have scratched up our wood-chip wallpaper. Which leaves me to wonder, exactly what is wood-chip wallpaper, and why would I want it? Further, why would I want it enough to contact an internet helpline for suggestions on how to repair it?

I’m a jobs coordinator with the Learning Skills Council in Bedfordshire and Luton. England, I suppose. Good for me, helping to boost local employment. Oh, and a social worker, also in England (though I look again a bit like that man/woman from Australia.)

I’m a basic skills social worker who enjoys writing. Writing? Another Jenny Gardiner who writes? Oh, no, that’s her colleague. I read the wrong line. Phew.

I came in 84th place in the over-55 division of the Great Scottish Walk. Twelve miles. Not bad. Except 84 women beat me. I wonder how old the ones who finished after me were. Not to be outdone, in Edmonton, Alberta, I ran the 300-meters in just under 45 seconds. That can’t be too bad. The website said it regretfully didn’t have the results in the naked 200-meter run. Let’s just hope there aren’t any pictures of that!

My husband Phil (!) and I own a farm in Australia and my other Australian husband Trent and I have a straw farm and a snazzy eighteen-wheeler in which to haul it. Apparently there’s a lot of me’s in Oz. In fact I was recently friended by an Australian me on Facebook.

In addition, according to a news-hires listing, I have “vast and diverse experience in all areas of accounting” and now work for Catering Services International. Well, I do love fine food.

Okay, so I did find a blog of a 14-year old Jenny Gardiner who proudly declares that she loves "getting pissed." Getting pissed? At fourteen! And her boyfriend Chris says that he’s happiest when he’s getting pissed with his girlfriend. She wants “to be a glamour model or sumfink to do wif being a social worker or counciler (sic)” and mentions something about thanking her psychiatrist for fixing her problems. Yikes! I hope she learns to pay more attention in her language arts class in the meantime.

Well, I’m proud of all of those Jenny Gardiners out there. Not a stripper (not counting the naked 200-meter dash!) or hired escort amongst them. As an added bonus, no arrest warrants. It seems that those stewards of my name the world over are keeping the rest of us out of trouble. Thank goodness. Now, if I can only get back to my writing. And whatever you do, don’t bother looking for me at S/he’s an imposter, trust me.

Jenny Gardiner is the author of Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me; Slim to None; and Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Please visit her at her website: where you can link to her on Twitter, Facebook and her blog as well as read samples of her books!


  1. What a hilarious post! Thanks for the laugh, Jenny!

    I've uncovered a few other Ellen Meisters, but your list is way funnier. :)

    My problem is with googling my characters' names. I always wonder if it's okay that there are actual people out there with the same names as the folks who misbehave in my novels ...

  2. thanks Ellen! Hmmm...I hadn't thought about googling my characters names--you don't want someone to slap a lawsuit claiming that it's based on them, eh...

  3. Jenny, so funny. Which is what I love and expect from you, babe. At least you get to create characters with whatever name you want. Or come up with a wild pseud for that thriller I know you're *dying* to write.

    Kidding, of course.

  4. thanks Malena! Yeah, I'm thinking I might need to turn to writing about serial killers, or something that the reading public actually buys...maybe I should write SAT review books, or college textbooks. Now there would be a steady income, no?!

  5. Girl, you do get around!

    I think there's a funny novel embedded in your post; don't ditch writing humor for thrillers. :-)

  6. Hi, very funny :)
    I'm a new follower and wanted to say hello.

  7. This was hilarious, Jenny, thanks for this! Love the last one. I didn't know you were 14 and liked to get pissed! Frankly, I'm a little shocked. :-)

    I wouldn't even bother trying this with my name. When you're called Sangu Mandanna you don't find many others who share it. When I Google myself I find my blog, Twitter, Facebook - if I take my first name out, I find tons about my father. Hmpf.

  8. Thanks y'all for stopping by! Yeah, Sangu, I think you're not so likely to find much out about your name dopplegangers...Now if you change it to Smith, maybe...

  9. Hey Jenny, you always crack me up . . . . I just had no idea how many other lives you lead. How you found time to drink grapefruit martinis with me I'll never know.

    Off to google myself and see who else I am . . .

  10. HILARIOUS!! You guys should start a facebook group. Jenny Gardiners, unite!

  11. Oh, man, I remember the whole Jenny/Greg love story on "All My Children!" Too funny that people confused you with the character! And I won't even comment on the androgynous Parliamentarian in Australia (but I'm very tempted now to go look him/her up!). I've done the Googling Other People With My Name thing, too. I've often thought it would be fun to get together and have a big party where no one has to wear name tags. ;-)

  12. I was friended by a Jenny Gardiner recently and her sister then started chatting w/ me thinking I was her sister. It was a little funny...

    btw Judy, they have these FABULOUS blackberry martinis there now. OMG they are divine but deceptive--you can't tell there's any alcohol in them so must be very very careful about sipping LOL

  13. Very funny Jenny! I'm another one who doesn't have to worry much about doubles. Although my grandmother told the story of a policeman coming to her door when she was a young married woman to inform her that her husband, Charles Isleib, had been hit by a train and killed. Fortunately, he then showed up. Who would imagine there were two men of that name in the same town??

    I too Google new characters names--just to see who's out there and whether I could expect any trouble...

  14. that's a crazy story! Lucky for her they were wrong!

  15. Was that Jenny of Jenny and Greg on All My Children? I was obsessed with that storyline.

    Very funny post!

  16. So THAT'S why your name sounded familiar long before we "met" on the old CL loop! I could never put my finger on it.

    Hilarious post, Jenny. So much fun to read.

  17. Very funny. I guess this means that wasn't you the other day . . .

  18. LOL, Jenny! I've looked up other Marilyn Brants and the ones I found both lived in really nice, sometime in the middle of our Chicago winter, I think I'll friend them and ask if they wanna trade for a few days. :)

  19. Both my maiden name and my married name are common and I've met lots of people with both names. I'll meet someone new and they'll think they know me because of the name.

  20. Priceless! You lead exciting lives. :) I think I already told you that I go by "Jess" because my full name URL is taken by a stripper in Vegas...other than that, I don't think there is much rowdiness afoot!

  21. Okay, I was grateful for my unusual name, b/c it makes me easy to google and remember, but now I'm totally jealous b/c I want a bunch of dopplegangers, too! Alas, alack! But there's a fairly popular YA novel vampire named Ernessa, and I'm awfully proud of that. There's also quite a few high schoolers and one German interior designer, so that's kind of cool...

  22. Well, if I had to choose between a stripper and a vampire...I'd pick a hay farmer in Australia LOL.
    thanks for coming by you guys!

  23. You always crack me up and although we've never had sangria together, I loved sharing a bottle of wine with you a few months ago!

  24. Right back atcha Sarah! And that was fun--must do again soon!