name-related puzzlements.

There are two issues with my name that pop up with astonishing regularity.

The first is the number of people who read my first name as “Markos”. I don’t know where they get that extra S at the end, but it happens a lot, and it’s genuinely puzzling to me. Is it because Marco is not a very common first name in the US, and that most of the wearers of that name spell it with a C? I suspect that a lot of people read Marko and have their brain’s autocomplete spit out Markos because that’s a somewhat common Greek name.

The second is the annoying reliability of someone saying “Polo” whenever some barista or fast food counter person calls out my first name to let me know my order is ready. 75% of the time, someone will go “POLO! Nyuk nyuk.” Fifty percent of the “Polo” people at least have the presence of mind to notice my pained smile and say something like “I bet you get that a lot.”


I swear, it happens so often that I have started giving fake names to the counter people. I’ve even stopped using my Panera loyalty card because it puts my name right on the receipt and undermines my attempt to squeeze by as “Mark” or “Mike”.

I really need to get an easy-to-remember pen name with maybe some added stud cachet. Like “Thorn Magnum”, or “John Ringo”.

59 thoughts on “name-related puzzlements.

  1. I’ve been leaving my name at any establishment that asks for it as “Doctor Nelson” for over 2 decades. Nobody ever asks for ID, and only a couple of times have people started to ask for medical advice. I always immediately reply that, “I’m not that kind of a doctor.” Seems to simplify things. . . .

    As for a pen name, I know I won’t be the only one to suggest “Major Caudill”, but I’m sure you’re tired of that one. 😉

  2. Markos because of Markos Moulitsas (daily Kos)?

    As for your AKA, I’m torn between Mork and Hanz Fritzbeefcake 😉

    • Yeah… My first name (as mentioned elsethread) is “Ochressandro”. I shorten that to “Sandro” at work and on the Facebooks. And, being an uncommon nickname, proceed to get “Sandra” all the time. Even on Facebook. Where the people typing it in have just seen it typed out.

      Sandra is a girl’s name. I am very definitively not a girl. I am a boy. I have the facial fluff to prove it at first glance, and other bits to prove it to, erm, very close friends. 😉

  3. My first name is Tavis. rhymes with davis. Almost everybody puts an r in it . I gave up trying to use checks.

    • Actually, your “R” complaint makes perfect sense to me, since clearly we’re somehow joined through the ether via my brother. My legal first name is “Ochressandro” (which, no, no one ever really uses, except telemarketers) but sometimes people who look at my ID or credit card ask me how to pronounce it. And which, after I have pronounced it, they proceed to mangle horribly, most frequently by dropping the second “R”. Which is evidently ending up in your name. 😉

      • And my father is “Darro” not Darrell, my grandfather was “Gerald” with g pronounced like the g in green not like a j. The other grandfather was Cipriano Romero which brings us to why my parents just went with “Jennifer Lynn” like every other parent giving birth in the late 70’s.

  4. I like Col. Duke Lacross. Most people don’t get it, but those that do think it’s pretty hilarious.

  5. Did you ever notice Robert Heinlein’s penchant for using Biblical first names for his characters? Nehemiah, Jacob, Lazarus, Zebediah, Jubal, Ezra.

  6. Okay, how many get the pronunciation of your LAST name right?

    Not many, I’ll bet.

    My dry cleaner is from Korea, and he pronounces my last name as Dodgy. I get called Marcus sometimes or Marky Mark by some. Part of my reaction is based on who can call me what. Friends are okay, strangers, not so much.

    Do you have a middle name? Perhaps you could become M. Wilhelm Kloos, for example?

  7. I have a very uncommon first name as well, That is misheard or mispronounced MUCH more often than not. Its compounded by having a last name that is not an uncommon first name, to the point where I have actually had people, in all seriousness, ask me to my face if I was certain I hadn’t switched them accidentally. SERIOUSLY!??!

    Its lead me to go by a pseudonym of “Stan” in situations where my name doesn’t matter for years. Drunken college parties, pickup orders in restaurants, reservations, etc. I’ve found the trick is to pick a name, but it has to be something that fits everyone’s paradigm of what a name should be, but is still uncommon enough that you don’t have 5 people answering to the name.

    Stan has served me will, and Gill has been used in a few occasions (apparently bowling alleys have a much higher occurrences of Stans than one would assume)

  8. I’m of the age that if I hear “Markos,” I’d wonder about which part of your family came from Manila. I get people trying to be cute and applying nicknames that I never use.

    I had to change how I write my last name because of people mis-reading the K as an H and saying an Anglo-Saxon epithet, then wondering why I get irked. (The name is Anglo-Dutch).

  9. I have a perfectly obscure Scandinavian name and spelling. One vowel and 6 consonants.

    I get perverse pleasure in writing it and watching 99% of the people I interact with go cross eyed trying to come up with something to call me.

    Mine has sounds that have not existed in English since Beowulf was being recited as news.

  10. I get the “don’t say ‘Hi’ to you at an airport..Haw Haw Haw!
    Regular riot, those folks.

  11. “John Ringo”? Seriously?

    You’ll have people left and right assuring you that you’re ‘No Daisy’ at all.

    And perhaps too high strung as well.

    • So what were you before the age of 7 and after 18? Inquiring minds want to know. . . . .

    • The XO aboard my first ship had a name that was pronounced “gay,” although not spelled that way. He said that the jokes fell off abruptly once he made O-5.

  12. I like using “Leroy Jenkins”. Occasionally I’ll get a live one that’ll holler it out just right.

  13. I use George Jackson Saunders. I even used it on an apartment mailbox for a while. Until Mom noticed it and said, “Oh! Living under the name of Saunders!”



  14. I’m going to guess that some of the “Markos” come from transference of the “s” from your last name. People who are not very familiar with you read your whole name once but when they need to recall your first name get it a little scrambled because both names end visually with the same vowel. Memory recall for those of us who are not afflicted with eidetic memory is dodgy and piecemeal like that.

  15. You have several different threads here:

    1. The White Trash tendency to make plural what is singular or to make singular what is plural. Do you notice that the persons calling you “Marcos” or “Markos” are lower class whites?

    2. Marcos=Hispanic name, common in Mexico and South America (Spanish and Portugese). Marcos is a popular first name in Hispanic culture. Markos is a common Greek first name. As you are a black-socked sandal-wearing foreigner/furriner, the persons addressing you as “Markos” are thinking of the Hispanic or Greek name which they may have heard while watching the little kids game of soccer or watching a CNN report on political turmoil.

    3. The insularity of Americans. People are too busy, lazy or stupid to get it right so they substitute what they know. Americans know “Mike” and “Mark”, Marko . . . not so much.

    Just ask Tam about being called “Kurt”, “Curt”, “Curtis” or, my favorite, “Kirt”.

    People do not know “Kirk” so they substitute what they know.

    Hope this helps . . . Marko.

  16. Re: Constantly hearing the same joke:
    When you’re in the uniform of a cop, you discover that 3/4 of the convenience stores and restaurants that you enter will hold at least one person who feels witty when holding up their hands and declaring “I didn’t do it!” Haw, haw, haw. I’ve given up the pained smile, and just wince and continue about my business.

    • I used to ignore it but now I look them in the eye and tell them it was funny the first 500 times I heard it but it lost it’s “zing” about 1983. And Marko, I have a family history that shows my last name has been spelled 18 different ways over the years so I can relate. In fact, my great great grandfather’s headstone says Vuncannon. Being a pudgy kid, I was “Voncannonball” from 6 to 18.

  17. Oh, and I’m going to start using “Magnus Ver Magnusson” as my stripper name porn name nom de guerre . Just because.

  18. Huh, yeah. Totally mind-auto-completed it and actually *remembered* your name as Markos… because, you know, I don’t read so carefully. Think it probably happens to nearly everyone with a name that is almost but not quite a common name, or that have variants.

  19. Funny! We let the girls (6 and 9) take turns telling the hostess at restaurants how many people etc. because it gives them practice relating to people. They do a good job of it, and we are always there to take over in case there is a problem. Last weekend, we went to Cracker Barrel, and it was the 9 year old’s turn. When the hostess asked for a name, without skipping a beat she said “Cinnamon Bun”. The hostess just looked at her for a second, and said “Well, Ok”. 10 minutes later we heard over the loud speaker “Cinnamon Bun. Your table is ready! Cinnamon Bun. Your table is ready”.

    My kids are so weird sometimes.


  20. My daughter decided she could get our table at Cracker Barrel a few years back. When asked for the name she told them ‘Daddy {my last name}’ and lo it worked.
    I have an unfortunately common and commonly mispronounced name so I generally leave ‘hiro’ or Jethro for my name.
    They still mispronounce it but it is more fun this way.

  21. My wife now writes her name as “Chel-C” since she has been called by various nurses, clerks, customers and so on such variations as “ChuLISA”, “ChelSEAL”, “Kelsey” and my favorite, “Sierra”.

  22. Riffing on FormerFlyer’s suggestions (and I DreamOf Jeannie), from here on out, I’m giving out my name as “Major Nelson,” and if spoken to about military matters, I will reply, “I’m not that kind of Major.”

  23. …Athough “Sileasia T. Duckforger” rolls off the tongue with a certain phoney euphony. (BTW, I claim that name; as “Silas T.,” it’s from my Hidden Frontier Commonplace Book and nobody else can have it. Kind of.)

  24. I created an AKA for myself when I was a kid, for fun. Never used it, and still have it available for immediate use in time of need.

    And at my alma mater, there are several years of yearbooks with the Snapperski boys making their presence known. Me and two friends decided that getting our mugshots in just once wasn’t enough. The Snapperski boys, Tim, Dave and myself, appeared over the course of 3 years unshaven, dressed slovenly, and looking very hungover, unlike our actual pictures. good times, good times.