Such a big to-do over such a little thingBill's Briefs Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
Fires, floods, earthquakes, heads rolling down the street, but what is the nation focused on? The Wiener (sic). As the good Senator Weiner (sic) has said stop trying to come up with a new joke; he’s heard them all.
My high school friend had the same name with the appropriate first name Richard (think about it). His school-day memories are filled with amusing bon mots made by his classmates, teachers and even the school principal at the graduation ceremony when handing him his diploma. Good times.
Why do parents give boys and girls names that are guaranteed to cause humiliation and ridicule? The names do not have to be sexual, just worthy of the bullies’ or class comedian’s attention. My colleague Betty Bledsoe married a man named Prique. She met the problem head on by introducing herself. With a firm handshake and a stern glare, she’d say very clearly with a short i, “Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Prique, Betty Bledsoe-Prique.” I always positioned myself nearby to watch the reaction.
Do the holders of these names and those with strange spellings or pronunciation problems really get used to it? I wonder. My name is simple “Hanson,” but often it is mis-spelled as “Hansen.” My college transcript story is a nightmare unto itself. Another was winning a gorgeous plaque with my name engraved with a double mistake: Hensen. Try putting that on the mantle and telling people it is really yours.
French names are always fun. Many of us are familiar with Hyacinth Bucket’s constant battle. In Japan I learned not to mangle the names of my international student body by admitting defeat at once, especially for the wonderful Polish names which continue to terrify me. I simply asked them how to pronounce their interesting name. My mangled attempts often produced hysterical results which set a good relaxed mood that first day of school.
My toughest problem was Mr. Wang a Chinese advisee who was going to the States as an exchange student. I wanted to warn him about possible jokes about his name. I hemmed and hawed and suggested maybe he could go by his first name as Americans could not tell one Chinese name from another. Great idea. Being from Hong Kong he proudly told me he already had a good English name and that should suffice. Peter.
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