To Caitlyn, from a Caitlin- Op Ed in The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Hello, Caitlyn! It is my pleasure indeed to #callyouCaitlyn, as everyone #callsmeCaitlin. Yes, I, too, am a Caitli(y)n, and I’m so pleased to welcome you to the sisterhood. You’re in excellent company! Like Caitlin Lowe, another American Olympian, Caitlin FitzGerald, a talented actress currently on “Masters of Sex,” and Caitlin Macnamara, who became Caitlin Thomas when she married the poet Dylan Thomas.

When I was a child, my mom told me that I was named after Caitlin Thomas, which gave me a lifelong passion for the poetry of language one must use to pretend to know anything about Caitlin or Dylan Thomas.

The world met you, the current most-famous Caitlyn, this week on the cover of Vanity Fair. Most of the attention has been on your womanhood, and your transition, and your introduction into that special club: Famous women whose physical appearance is dissected on national television. But you join another club, too. Mine. One for women named Caitlin.

First, let’s put the whole spelling question to bed. A Caitlin is a Caitlyn is a Kaitlyn is a Katelyn. People seem to be focusing a bit on the spelling you chose — specifically the first letter “C” rather than the alternative popular among your famous family. But it’s all the same name. One of the many derivatives of Katherine, which is said to mean “pure.”

And we are pure, no matter how we spell it. I couldn’t think of a way to please everyone with the spelling — the only thing that came close was C(K)ait(ate)li(y)n(n), and that is ridiculous, so from here on out I will cede to your preferred spelling, and just call us Caitlyn when referring to us generally.

I am Caitlin Gill, and we actually have more in common than just a name. At six-foot-one, I am just shy of your height. I am just over half your age, but with my complete lack of fitness and your past as the World’s Greatest Athlete, I think we close that gap. For example, I can hear both of us saying, “Gee, I feel 50 today!” We are also both entertainers. You, at the peak of celebrity with your reality television fame and upcoming E! documentary series, and me, a stand-up comic who was in that commercial for Credit Karma.

I feel certain that there is a significant crossover between the audience for your reality show, which chronicles opulence, and my ad, which was targeted at people who are concerned about their credit score. As an entertainer, I want to thank you for breaking down barriers with your magazine cover. You have been on this planet longer than any other woman to grace the cover page on her own (that’s the nicest way I could think to say that you’re the oldest). This gives me, a Caitlyn for whom fame is taking its time, great hope for my own future.

Caitlin has served me very well as a name, I hope it does the same for you. It’s a beautiful name, and it’s fun to say excitedly. CAITlyn! It just pops! Shout it from the rooftops! Or to your millions of followers on the fastest-growing Twitter account ever created!

It is not only fun to say Caitlyn, it is fun to be a Caitlyn. Especially as an adult. The name Caitlyn on a child fits sort of like a mom’s business suit. It’s cute, but we can’t fully own it until we’re grown.

You are never alone as a Caitlyn. Certainly not since what appears to be thePeak Caitlyn Saturation of 1998. We share a very popular name. By the time I was in high school, every elementary school in the country was brimming with Caitlyns. It was not as big when I was born in 1981, early in the trend (way to be ahead of the curve, Jill and Alan). But I have known other Caitlyns for most of my life. Though there appear to have been fewer than five Caitlyns born in your birth year, I’m sure you are comfortable with sharing a name with other people. You were known for most of your life as Bruce, and 1949, the year you were born, was very near Peak Bruce Saturation. I’m sure you’ll have no problem sharing Caitlyn with the rest of us.

The only trouble I run into as a Caitlyn is the aforementioned problem of spelling. Our name is a word that most people are perfectly comfortable saying, but almost no one is confident in writing down. For someone tasked with penning our name, it hits the ear like “entrepreneur” or “bureau.” Their hands freeze and begin to sweat as the swirl of possible spellings floods their mind. You’ve sidestepped this issue, I imagine, with worldwide fame.

So I think you’ll enjoy Caitlyn very much. If you ever want to talk Caitlyn to Caitlin, we both live in the Los Angeles area, and I’m always available to help out another Caitlyn. Especially one that just changed the world.


December 21st 2013

Dear Abe,

Season’s Greetings from the McKendrick clan! Can't believe another year has come and gone, but we are richer and wiser for the time, if a little saggier around the hips!! Must be all those Christmas cookies we've been getting. The war on drugs in our house is all about the controlled substances butter and sugar!!! Get caught in possession, spend 90 min on the treadmill!! LOL!!!

Speaking of all the Christmas cookies that have arrived this year (and who can stop talking about them, am I right?! Ruby's best shortbread yet!!), we wanted to take some time out to thank you, Abe, for being the best darn mailman we could hope to have.

We appreciate all the good tidings you bring. Thanks for carrying all those letters and birthday cards and coupons, but we could sure do without those bills! LOLZ!!

Randy says he's sorry about all the heavy lifting, but wants you to know that he's enjoying the heck out of the Vinegars of the World Club.  He has his binoculars out looking for you every month when it's due, and wiggles like a puppy when you come zooming in.

(He's standing right behind me and wants me to tell you that he doesn't wiggle... but if it's not him wiggling either the whole house is shaking or my vertigo is back and I just don't have time for either).

Anyhoo, 2013 has been another exciting year for us! Junior can't wait for all the college acceptance letters you're gonna bring him next spring! Can't believe he's 18! The years just flew by!! This momma bird is not ready for an empty nest!! :( :(

How did your wife deal with it when your lil chicks flew off on their own? You should give me all her notes about how to cope with an empty coop.

How old were your kids when they left home anyway? I mean one day they were little puffy things squawking away, and the next, they weren't asking their momma bird for her handouts anymore.

You must be so proud.  We want you to know that we are proud too. We are proud to have a mailman like you. I mean, the whole nation gets to enjoy the postal service mascot of the noble bald eagle, but we are the only county in the whole darn country that gets to have an actual, real life, American Bald Eagle delivering its mail.

The talon marks in our correspondence are a small price to pay for such a source of civic pride.  And when we find the skulls of your prey in with our New Yorker, we feel like the luckiest house on the block.

Admittedly, Randy was a little sore a few years back, when his sister sent us a postcard from Paris, France and you ripped it to shreds on our doorstep with your fierce beak, but with the threat of terrorism looming over us all like it is (Never Forget) I knew the country was in no mood for that Frenchy, uppity attitude and you were just saying what we were all thinking. Besides, she bad mouths my turkey every Thanksgiving, so I don't care much to hear what she has to say anyway.

(Randy is still right behind me and wants me to tell you that his sister is right about my turkey, but he better stuff it with stuffing it or he won't touch any of my light OR dark meat til turkey day 2000-and-never!!!)

We know it was the Stork who blessed the Johnson's this year, but we just can't stay mad at you for snatching that gift in your vice-like claws and soaring off into the sun with it. It was a colicky thing and probably would have grown up limp in the wrists.  You know I can see their recycling from our kitchen window, Maybe next time around Betty Johnson can bake a stronger bun in that oven of hers if she lays off the Chardonnay. 

(Randy says I shouldn't make an ass out of you and me by assuming, cause men can drink white wine too, but I think maybe that's the kind of man who carries the limpy wristy gene.  For example I can't imagine that a big tough thing like you would settle for anything less than a red.  The red blood of your prey, you toughie, you!)

Speaking of prey, please accept and enjoy this parcel of meat.  It's two voles and a squirrel, we know it's not much, but we hope it's enough to show we care... and we hope it's enough to slate your hunger so you don't eat our nephew when he comes to open presents on Christmas morning.  

Thanks for a great year, and here's hoping for many more (should you choose to spare us). GO USA!

Randy and Judith McKendrick