LARSON: Some names just prone to being spellbound

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

This is definitely the hardest column I've ever had to write. To all my trusting readers I must confess something that I hate to admit. I make mistakes. And those mistakes include spelling errors.

For someone who's been a sixth grade county finalist in the Spelling Bee, any spelling error is a cardinal sin. Therefore, every one of the 250,000 words in my 557 columns so far should have been correctly spelled. So it's with shame and regret that I must plead guilty to two spelling errors. And worse yet, it was people's names I misspelled.

The first error involved a casual friend. I'd seen her name on an official church document as Joann. "Oh," I thought, "just like the fabric store. Got it." When my column came out, my husband quickly noted that I'd left off the "e." The church directory proved him right. Though I was raised to believe the pope was infallible, I guess it was rather presumptuous of me to believe that no one ever writing anything in the name of any church for any reason could ever be wrong.

My second mistake involved a Georgia Tech student named Tom Kwasniak who did a racecar presentation at Lilburn Elementary School. When he spelled his name for me, I was taken aback when he came to the "s." I'd had a roommate named Bozniak and a professor named Wozniak, spelled just like Wozniak, the Apple guy. "S,s,s," I told myself a million times, but somehow my brain was locked in on the "z." I was horrified when I saw my column with Kwazniak spelled out in ink. And it was nothing that spellcheck or even the sharpest proofreader could ever key in on.

Shortly after that disaster, my husband and I went out with our friends John and Mary Yale. As I was literally crying in my beer over this unforgivable sin, John said, "Don't feel bad. Do you have any idea what people do with Yale? They spell it Yaile, Yell, Yelle. It's unbelievable. Even when I say it's spelled just like the university, there are people who don't know what I'm talking about."

The most bizarre story was when the Yales had made reservations at a restaurant. When they arrived and gave their name, the hostess looked over the entire list and said their name was not there.

Mary picked up the clipboard. The hostess was right. Yale was not on the list. But among the names that had not been crossed off was Lock.

OK. So there are people out there whose brains are more dysfunctional than mine. But they are not columnists. My spelling errors were still inexcusable and I apologize to both of my victims. But John made me realize that names much simpler than Kwasniak can still be a challenge to live with. If you have a funny story about your name that you'd like to share, spell it out to me.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.