I, fortunately, am not one of those people who have a name that is often misspelled. I had the option of buying my name on a keychain. It’s fairly traditional. So traditional, in fact, that I go by something the more interesting Sahara on WordPress and in a few other places.
My name is so common that it generally only has two spellings: with an H or without an H. It’s at the end, and it’s purely a visual thing, I think. It doesn’t affect the pronunciation in any way. So I go to get coffee, and you know how they write your name on the cup. Sometimes they ask me “With an H or without?”
That really irks me, and I’ll tell you why.
Bur first, allow me some throat clearing: I know its not the workers faults and there are some people who get really salty about having their name misspelled. Having said that, it doesn’t matter how you spell my name; my enjoyment of the beverage will not be diminished because the H vanished. It also harkens certain things that make me squirm with embarrassment. The boys in undergrad.
No, no, I mean, men. The men at the University. That I attended. As a woman. It seemed like everyone made an exaggerated emphasis about us being men and women, or perhaps because we couldn’t get lumped into “high school kids” anymore It was so weird to me.
Columbia, Missouri, where the state flagship school is located, it a college town, through and through, and all the little shops were funky and mostly staffed by us. (Even me a few times.) I remember going into those shops and ordering a coffee or pizza (Shakespeare’s shoutout!) or something, and they guy behind the counter would look at me soulfully, pen in hand, and ask, “Is that with an H?”
Up until that point, as a girl, I guess, people didn’t ask if my name had an H or not. But as a woman, that mattered. My personal expression and preferences mattered and were to be respected. By that cute boy with floppy hair was asking but the first question to unlock the door to the treasure laden corridor to my soul. And though the world pivoted on that moment.