my name is not difficult to spell. pee-you-el-el-ee-why. it’s in the dictionary, having something to do with pulling things and shit. there are no hidden vowels, gratuitous consonants or tongue gymnastics involved in its pronunciation. yet, increasingly, my name has been subject to a series of spelling abominations that make the simplest things taxing and irritating. nametags, hospital bills, getting press tickets for plays i have to review – suddenly i am like a boring fugitive, shamefully thrusting my victoria’s secret credit card in some stranger’s face in order to prove my identity.
when i was teaching at a music and language summer camp in poland, over the course of three weeks, my name morphed into anne putley. it happened in waves – they’re crafty, those poles – but i did begin to notice that i was slowly being eradicated! at the teacher recognition ceremony, they called anne putley to the stage to accept her award, (a clock paperweight) and i didn’t know it was me until the clapping stopped and still no one stood up to accept the award. perhaps since it was poland, they didn’t know what to do without the seven extra consonants that accompany every word in the language. i’m surprised, frankly, that they didn’t make me anya puczszly, though maybe they just needed more time.
later, at alt q, a terrible folk concert that i got tickets to as a “reward” for my contributions to a queer website, a man in pleated khakis and a leather sox hat rifled through his stack of will call tickets three times before telling me i was out of luck. “are you sure? try polly. or pelley. or…putley.”
“oh here it is!” he said. “puaully.”
ah yes, P-U-A-U. she must be hawaiian.
and let’s, for a minute, talk about how my name is NOT FUCKING ANNE.
case in point, work emails. like most people who have the joy of working in a pigeon-gray cubicle, i have an electronic signature that appears at the bottom of every email i send, which has my name, email, phone number, astrological dispositions and other pertinent facts. somehow, despite that signature, which i’ve bolded by the way, people continue to either drop the last letter from my name entirely or drop it and add an e.
i’ve taken to returning the favor by removing the last letter from their name as well. “good to hear from you, stev.”
i think it’s working.