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What doesn’t kill you . . .

August 20, 2018

First impressions aren’t always what they seem, but I am certain a recent email exchange left one new colleague shaking her head. Lady, what in the mayonnaise? You spelled your name wrong on an important document.  In my defense the document was sent to me very late and was a fillable PDF form in which the font was very tiny. A finger slip must have happened in my haste, causing me to go from Stevens to Stevems.

Rather than recognizing this a teachable moment (for myself) to slow down and proofread before I hastily zip off documents, it became more a trip down the nostalgic lane of no one (apparently including myself momentarily) spells my name correctly.  Even aunts and uncles spell my name wrong and they’ve known me my entire life.  Having a unique spelling has plagued me to a life of all kinds of interesting encounters.

I attended school when the attendance roster was handwritten into a gradebook by teachers who had dedicated themselves to legible penmanship, lest we wayward students not be able to unravel the mysteries of the learning universe due to their poor handwriting.  But trying to squeeze that intricate cursive writing into the tiny red and blue lines on slightly yellow-green paper of red or blue gradebooks left uppercase “K” often resembling uppercase “R”.  Similar to the Key and Peele substitute teacher scene with A-Aron, I never once had a fill-in teacher call for Kandy in the role call.  Is Randy here? If I wasn’t paying attention, I didn’t even notice where in the alphabetical lineup the sub was calling out names.  Randy? Randy Noles? Randy are you here? Um, do you mean Kandy? Yes, I am here.  

Every. Single. Time.

Most of my growing up years, I tried to correct people, but after the prom ticket mix-up, I decided to acquiesce and just accept that my name would never be spelled correctly. The nice young man that I was dating at the time went to buy the prom tickets and being from the South, the sellers used the beautiful coachmen envelope system (one white envelope inside another so as not to sully the precious cargo contained within).  They wrote in a beautiful attempt at calligraphy his name and then attempted to write mine.  Below is what my name looked like on that outer envelope along with a running commentary on what he said to them.

Candy Knowles  No, Kandy with “K”, but not on Noles.

Kandie Nowles No, Kandy with “Y”

Kandey Nowles No, Kandy with just a “K” and “Y”. Noles without a “W”

Kandy Nolls  No, Noles with an “e-s”

Kandy Nolles  [Insert exasperation] NO! Noles with an “l-e-s”. Like Florida State. N-O-L-E-S

Kandy Noles

I felt so bad for him when he showed me the envelope, because that is exactly how it looked with all the various iterations of my name written and crossed off until the correct spellings were intact. But for the life of me, I never did figure out how they got his last name “Heintzelman” correct on the very first try. Really? Seriously? Are you kidding me?

After throwing in the towel, I never really thought about the spelling of my name or potential names until I was briefly engaged to a young man who had a last name which started with “K”.  I was horrified when I realized that if I married him I would never be able to get anything professionally monogrammed since Kim is my middle name.  There numerous reasons for calling off our engagement, but offensive monogram could have been added to the list.

After my trip down unique spellings memory lane, I sent an apology email which ended with this brief explanation.

Well to be honest, I am so used to my name(s) being spelled wrong that I just gloss it over.  I’ve never been able to find an engraved pencil my whole life.

Her reply only made the whole misspelling disaster worth it.  She told me that she was sorry, but my response made her laugh only from the “I get what you are saying” because her husband has a unique name and he could never find a personalized pencil or bicycle license plate.

Bicycle license plate! Bahaha!  That’s good stuff!

Yep.  She gets me.  So somewhere between being called Randy or Kandace (which my name is not an abbreviation of) and never finding anything engraved with my name at the tourist shops, I have learned to navigate life with a never-going-to-be-spelled-correctly-name. Ever.

It’s okay.  Don’t think I harbor any ill will to my parents for this unique moniker doomed to mistaken spelling, because I perpetuated the same sin with one of my children who gets everything from Chloe to Cole for Cloie.  Only add to her misery the advent of today’s technology which leaves her text messages with an autocorrect of “Hey! It’s me Cloud!”.

no. 2

Like the Kelly Clarkson song says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – or at least equips you with a good sense of humor while wielding our plain ol’ No. 2 pencils.

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