When I first went to school, the teachers didn’t stumble over my last name. They just called me by my first name. They didn’t joke about my last name, which was “Moster,” because you didn’t do that with young impressionable children. A few years later, though, teachers began rhyming my name with “toaster” and joking that I was the Moster with the mostest. That wasn’t too bad.
Then came junior high when teachers were tempted to call you by your last name if they called you anything at all. With six different classes every day teachers didn’t bother with frivolities like knowing your first name. I was dubbed Mademoiselle Moster, Senorita Moster, and that didn’t bother me in the least. At least they lined up the right grades with the right names.
The biggest blow to name-calling was when I married and took my husband’s name of Arenofsky. Nobody wanted to say it, much less spell it. Thus began several decades when I devoted enormous amounts of time helping people to get my last name right. I’d say: A as in apple, R as in rabbit, E as in English, N as in Nancy, O as in onion, F as in Fred, S as in Stephen, K as in kite and Y as in yellow. That worked well enough for those customer reps and other service people who were paid by the hour. Of course they still had problems with my first name. All of a sudden, the spellings diverged–there were those who were in the “Janice” category like me and others in the “Janis” category like Janis Joplin. For some reason it didn’t matter to me if they got my first name wrong–I devised ways of getting back. For instance, one professor consistently called me Janet, at which time I would cringe silently. But when he tackled the last name and it came out something like Ufsky, I filed that away in my memory and got back at him subtly during class Qs and As.
Now I’ve got a big problem that Google and Twitter won’t even acknowledge. Two digital giants have decided that somehow I’m related to Darren Aronofsky, the well-know movie producer and director. They want me to spell my name with the O as opposed to the E. One letter really can make a difference, but these two cyber monsters won’t even acknowledge the mistake, much less rectify it. I’ve written several times to Google. Once I got an answer that was informative. It informed me that inasmuch as I wasn’t a member of the press (I’ve only written 3 books and hundreds of articles), they weren’t going to give me a personalized answer. Somehow I was supposed to solve the problem myself. I just about can figure out how t o use my laptop, so I’m not the woman for that mission.
I don’t know how this problem will eventually resolve. I’ve even contacted Darren Aronofsky and, surprise, he hasn’t returned my email. The guy doesn’t care–I guess he figures he’s so important that no one would mistake him for a member of the Arenofsky tribe. Meanwhile I’m a woman without a name. I’ve been digitally raped and I don’t mean to confuse the issue by comparing the problem to a feisty finger.
In the old days, you might expect a form letter of apology or someone might even call you up. But nowadays, despite all the ways to communicate–email, instant messaging, phone, texting-I have a feeling of isolation. No one cares enough to get my name straight. I guess I’ll have to be satisfied that at least all the editors I’ve worked with got it right. To be continued.