The Curse of Long Names

This is for all for those poor Americans who have suffered their entire life with long Eastern European last names.  We have finally gotten our due. We are exacting our revenge from those Smiths and Joneses who have never had their names butchered by well-meaning teachers and employers who can’t pronounce five consonants in a row.  No longer will fourteen-letter surnames be relegated to mangled obscurity.

Now, before you good people accuse me of name shaming, I want to say, very clearly, that some of my best friends have names like Berke and Webster. I certainly would never insult them or make them feel bad in any way. But as fondly as I feel for those friends, they have never felt the heartache of a teacher calling attendance:

Robert Jones

Here

Patty Smith

Present

James Stan… Stamo… No Stang… STjfghfghfghfffhjgfhjgfhjf…  No, that’s not right…

Please stop! I’m here!!

And it’s not just teachers. We, the long-named citizens of the USA, have become the kings of brevity on restaurant waiting lists. Maitre’ D’s just won’t accept, seat, or even attempt to say, “Kryczyncjofski party of four.” Consequently, we voluntarily shorten our identities to, “Kriz.” In a world where many are searching for their individualities by combing through their DNA, we hide our proud heritage, simply because nobody can pronounce it.

Well I say, “No More!” And once again, technology has proven to be the sunshine of our new dawn of reckoning. Computers, and people’s reliance on them, have made our lives easier and yours more difficult. “How?” you may ask. It is in the very core of our computer lives, our email accounts and passwords.

I say to you, Bob Jones, “What is your email username?” I’m sure it is something like, ‘jonesy4568795236485boythisisstupid@whatever.com.’ Perhaps Mike Smith would like to share? Is yours anything like, ‘mikesmith_78_46_241_hut1hut2@Iwishthiswasshorter.com? Your simple names are just too common. So many of you have them, and there can only be one username to a platform, now you have to get creative on what you call yourself. We Americans of eastern European heritage just use our first initial and last name, i.e. jkoslowcyek@happyemail.com.  Simple, yet effective.

When it comes to computer passwords, life is even easier. While you short-namers are trying to come up with the perfect combination of random characters and remember-ability, we just look back to dear old uncle Delphus.  It’s super easy, because our family names are random enough to qualify as complex passwords, and only we know how to spell them. When it comes to the fact that internet security dictates passwords need to be changed regularly, the advantage goes to us again. As family trees in America are getting smaller, due to a lower birth rate, our old families, with ten children each, have lots of strange names with hundreds more outlandish variations, making the choices virtually endless.  It’s even better because there’s not a ‘Bob1234’ in the bunch.

“Ah ha,” you may say, “I see a flaw in the system.” You might think that, but being a considerate person, raised by two fine Polish and German parents, I will let you think your incorrect thoughts. “Work passwords should be changed every ninety days, and they can’t be similar to the last five passwords. Therefore, before very long, even you long-namers will have to resort to underscores, random numbers, strange capitalizations, and symbols just like the rest of us.” Go ahead, take a few minutes to gloat, I’ll wait. I have plenty of time before I tell you just how wrong you are.

The truth is, I have only been talking about the names. Our food is equally hard to spell and pronounce, and therefore makes equally good passwords. We have spaetzle, and paprikash, not forgetting the ever popular pierogi. There is also clothing like the babushka, and other things even I can’t spell. So many things in fact, that you short-namers should take note. You should all make friends with a Polish-American. They could teach you words and spellings that no one in this country could ever figure out. Haven’t you ever wondered why Kaspersky Labs provide some of the finest internet security software? It’s easy: no one can spell the words they use.

I know that there are some of you more jealous types who are still arguing. Well I must give credit where credit is due. I have only been talking about the Eastern European names. Yes, I concede that recently Americans have made a startling move to naming their children all sorts of strange names. I blame this phenomenon on the TV show Bewitched. Yes, in 1966 this show gave us the first name of Tabitha.  Immediately millions of little girls with extremely uncreative parents were donned with the moniker, Tabitha. And yes, it would have qualified for a good password or username, had computers been around back then. The only issue I see here is as time moved into the computer age, so did the practice of coming up with new and ever stranger names for your children.

Now I have spoken to my school age children about this, so I can say with confidence that these children with odd names have just as much, if not more, trouble with teachers pronouncing their names. Therefore, these poor unfortunates, with surnames like Smith, have just as much trouble as we did so many years ago. It is also true they can use their strangely spelled names as high security passwords. So, I believe they have paid their dues, and I welcome them into this elite club of long-namers.

If you wish to keep arguing go right ahead, but face it: we have already suffered, your time is now. Those of you who do not know the sting of mispronounced names are faced with a fight in this computer age. Good luck remembering your password, ours are easy.

If you have comments, want to discuss the health benefits of habanero peppers, or want me to take a sideways view at your favorite topic. Send me an E-Mail at ohhssidewaysview@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you!

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