No matter where I go these days, it's the same question whenever anyone sees my name. From the teller at the bank, the nurse at the doctor's office, the cashier at the store: "Oh, wow! Have you seen 'Schitt's Creek'?"
Of course, I've seen it. And so have lots of other people. And, as a result, my Irish, vowel-laden, never fashionable first name has become a thing.
After decades of spelling out my name, patiently smiling when it's mispronounced and answering the same question over and over (it's a Gaelic form of Mary, if you're wondering) — actions all too familiar to those who join me in the unusual-names siblinghood — Moira has entered pop culture.
And it entered with a glorious swagger, in the hands of Catherine O'Hara, who played Moira Rose on "Schitt's Creek." This Moira is a woman of a thousand wigs (each of which has a name), dresses in avant-garde black and speaks in an unidentifiable, wandering accent, marching through her sentences like she's not quite sure where she'll end up but wants to arrive there with her head held high.
She's hilariously self-absorbed — this is a mother who's not sure what her daughter's middle name is — and yet wonderfully loving, in her diva-ish way.
If you have watched "Schitt's Creek," you know Moira, and you probably adore her. She and I share a name, a fondness for high heels and a taste for drama.
What's in a name?
O'Hara's performance won her myriad awards in the show's final season, including an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award. But as I made my way through the six seasons of "Schitt's Creek" last year, I kept being distracted from her skill by the simple fact that people on that show said my name all the time. And pronounced it correctly! (For those who haven't seen the show, it's Moy-ruh.)
It was as if Eugene Levy's Johnny Rose, every time he tenderly told his Moira to get a grip, was talking to me, and I was startled every time. For someone who was brokenhearted every time Robin Williams mispronounced Moira in "Hook" back in 1991 (it was his character's wife's name; how could he not know how to say it?), this was heady stuff.
My weird little name took me many years to fall in love with. As a teenager, I wished I was called Heather or Michele; a nice, simple, pretty name that everyone would know. But as I grew up and became myself, I realized there was something musical and unique about Moira, and that I would own it, because it was mine.
Maybe, thanks to O'Hara and "Schitt's Creek," Moira is set to be the next trendy name. I was startled to see it in a recent advice column on Slate.com as an example of a desirable baby name. Maybe, in a few years, kindergartens will be full of Moiras, wearing chic little outfits and imperiously ordering the other kids around. Maybe I, in my twilight years, will be seen as an early adopter.
Or maybe not. In looking up an O'Hara interview on People magazine's website, I notice that throughout the article, the character's name is spelled "Moria," a variant I get a lot.
Ah, well; a name isn't built in a day.