It was my freshman year of high school and I was wandering the hallway in between classes, doing everything I could to blend in and stay out of the way. That’s when I heard it: “Rachel! Rachel!” I spun around.
But the call wasn’t for me: It was for Rachel H. She was tall, sophisticated, fabulous, the kind of upperclassman you could only aspire to be. “Wow,” I thought as my cheeks turned ever so slightly pink. My own name took on instant power. To be associated with someone like that? I suddenly felt seen, important, cool.
For the record, I also walked the halls with another Rachel, a Rachael and a Rachelle. We didn’t always acknowledge each other’s presence, but we were aware of our tandem existence—like we were members of an unofficial club.
As you might expect, I was a baby of the 1980s, the decade in which Rachel really took off after a steady rise throughout the ‘70s and late ‘60s. (In 1968, Joanne Woodward was fresh off an Oscar nod for her role in Rachel, Rachel, her husband Paul Newman’s directorial debut, which is credited with putting the moniker on the map.) By 1985, Rachel was #13 on the charts with more than 9,500 Rachels per million born, according to BabyCenter.