Lots of things come to mind when I think of the word “green”: grass, trees, money, environmentally friendly behavior, envy, split pea soup.
But the one word I think of first is my maiden name: Greenspon.
Having the last name Greenspon was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it meant I was part of the most supportive, wonderful family, who would do anything for me at the drop of a hat.
On the other hand, it meant people mispronounced and misspelled my last name ALL THE TIME.
Notice the last four letters of that name: S-P-O-N. Not “-span.” Not “-spun.” Not “-spawn.” SPON. For twenty-seven years, that wily O confounded everyone who crossed its path.
I think some people thought I was just trying to be fancy with my pronunciation of Greenspan. Legend has it that my grandmother, upon meeting my grandfather — whose name was Sam — smirked when he pronounced his last name. “And I suppose you pronounce your first name ‘Sahm,’ hmm? Is that right, Sahm Greenspahn?'” To which he replied, “Um. No. It’s Sam. Sam Greenspon.”
When I started working at the PBS Nightly Business Report, Alan Greenspan was still chairman of the Federal Reserve. I always found it interesting how quickly sources returned my calls when I first started that job. Until, of course, they realized I was GreenSPON, not GreenSPAN. I had a good run, though.
When I got married, I figured my days of last-name confusion were over. At last! A last name the world wouldn’t butcher!
And then I received a call at work one day from someone looking for Dana Bates. Sigh.
Do you have an easy last name to spell and/or pronounce? Or are people constantly getting yours wrong, too?
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