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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tremble, All Ye Who Stand Before the Awesome Power of Consonants!

While I would like to leave actual surnames out of this, for now, I do feel it necessary to point out to you that my last name is a Scrabble dream.

We’re talkin’ big points, baby!

In other words, my last name can beat up your last name.

My last name, a hyphenated monstrosity created by the marriage of two people from the end of the alphabet, looks like a Dutch/Czechoslavakian nightmare, something hurled, drunkenly, as a curse.

Perhaps with a tasty hand gesture thrown in, just for color.

This post, by the way, has no redeeming social, spiritual, or economic value. But does it have to? I mean, I’m so relevant most of the time…


Why is it necessary that I bring up the fact that my last name is a consonant freak-out?

I don’t know where you’re from, but every public school I went to had a fascination, it seems, with making us sit in class alphabetically. Hence, with a surname starting with “Z”, I sat in the far corner of the room, sometimes the very last seat, with the Ws and Vs and Ys.

And you know how strange those people are.

Or is it only in the U.S. that the end of the alphabet seems out of place? Throw a “v” or a “z” in a word and suddenly the unsure amongst us get flustered.

“Where you from?”


“No, I mean before that.”


“No, I mean where do your people come from?”

Ah. Now I see what you’re driving at. In a land full of Carlsons and Petersons, you want to know where I got a name that starts with a “Z”. Because it’s funny or something.

Ha ha.

Two jobs ago, I supervised a receptionist, a simple girl from a rural town just outside a outer-ring, rural suburb of Minneapolis. When we had visitors to the office, it was her job to put the little white letters on the big black “welcome” board. You know:  The People’s Credit Union and Coin-Operated Laundry Welcomes So-and-So.

One day, she let me know that she could not fill in the “welcome board” for the next day’s visitor because “it would be obscene”.


“His name is obscene.”

She wouldn't say it, this 18-year-old Puritan, so she finally wrote it down for me.

His name?

Leo Fuchs.

I explained to her that people’s names are not obscene, they are their names.

She said, and I quote, “Well, if I get in trouble I’ll tell them it was your idea.”

Yeah. You do that.

You know, I will sneak a French fry off your plate, I will take a 90-minute lunch and call it an hour, and I will dance with your husband if he asks; but of all the things I may do, I will never make fun of your name, no matter what it is.

Then again, if we play Scrabble and proper names are allowed, I will take no prisoners.


Should Fish More said...

I remember the grief the Crouch sisters had many years ago in high school.
I always wished my name was Eric Von Brakken.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

Do you know I'm pretty sure I went to high school with a Leo Fuchs? I graduated with a Lisa Fuchs, and I think he was her brother. What are the odds, huh?

vanilla said...

I have encountered some interesting names. People's names are sacred to them, so I won't list any of the interesting ones, lest someone mistakenly think I am making fun of them. Some are fun to say, though, and some I can't pronounce, including that of a niece now that she is married.

joeh said...

In the NYC area, Lipshits is fairly common. Pronounced as Lipschultz, because who wouldn't?

Shelly said...

One of my best friends married a guy with no vowels in his name. I gave her a huge selection of Scrabble vowels, cut out vowels from bulletin board sets, even some vowels borrowed from a sign. She's never wanted for a vowel this whole marriage.

jenny_o said...

Bless all those with uncommon surnames, and also those whose parents who deliberately gave them weird/funny/lala/eye-rolling first names - and shame on those parents :)

Silliyak said...

Having seen your name, I can attest to the veracity. of the above.

Bossy Betty said...

I have an unusual first name, one that if shortened causes trouble with some people. So, yeah, I get the name thing.

Geo. said...

Fuchs, German for Fox. I imagine many people anglicize the name to make it sound like a less startling announcement.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Hearing ya babe. It has become a source of amusement to me, watching the eyes of those trying to compute name versus appearance and the internal curtains being drawn... then bearing the teeth-grinding variations they come up with. YAM xx

Jono said...

Other than my own "different" name I have met Harry Bahls and Wanda Dick. Truth.

Leenie B said...

Note to self: Don't play scrabble with Pearl Z.

savannah said...

You know my last name and my first name, so you can imagine how often I get that "no, where are you REALLY from" question. *sigh* But anyway, depending on how smart the person is, my prescription/cleaning/mail etc., is either at the beginning of the alphabet or the end. *double sigh*

Gigi said...

Way back when; my quite harmless maiden name started with a Y and I was stuck in that back corner with all the unpronounceable last names. As you so astutely pointed out there were some of them were strange.

Fast forward to my marriage when I lost that easy to say and spell name and saddled myself with a name that uses all the vowels yours doesn't.

Elephant's Child said...

That poor innocent possom that you were mentoring.

Sioux said...

Pearl--I've seen your last name and it is indeed a "winner" in many ways.

My maiden name was "Kortjohn." Not a big scorer on a Scrabble board, but I did get teased about being the "king's toilet."

Daisy said...

I feel so uninteresting and common, altho on March 17th I add O' to my name for O'Cooper. Cooper-smiths made barrels so my family must be a "barrel of laughs"

Anonymous said...

It used to be that you could guess pretty accurately about a person's heritage based on their last name. But these days, it is getting a bit more difficult. When someone changes their name to Ocho, who knows about "Where their family came from", really?

River said...

I had an uncommon surname in school years, 9 consonants with one vowel at the end. My dad would sometimes tell me it was as common in Germany as Smith or Jones is in England, but there was never any proof of that.

Daisy said...

My last name isn't that difficult, but it gets misspelled and mispronounced all the time. As for the french fry, you don't have to sneak one from my plate. I'd split them with you right down the middle--halfsies. :D