Thursday, September 16, 2010
It's spelled S-A-R-A. But it's pronounced "Sara-no-H"
There are varying accounts of how I got my name depending on which of my parents you ask and what mood they’re in.
Officially, according to my mother, I was going to be named Rachel Lauren, which my Hebrew name still corresponds to, but when I was born, my dad pulled a fast one because he’d never liked that name. Of course, my mom said that she was so tired by then that she would have agreed to the name Porky Pig, so I should consider myself lucky that my dad’s sense of humor wasn’t more warped than it already is.
When pressed, she says that they had discussed the Sara Elizabeth option before I was born, and chose to leave the H off of Sara because it seemed too old fashioned with the H on it.
I also remember my dad telling me one time that the reason my brother and I both have four-letter names with two As in them is because he’s the world’s worst speller and this way he would be able to spell our names correctly.
While the latter probably isn’t true, the problem is that no one other than my dad has EVER been able to spell my name correctly.
I’m not quite sure what the problem is. The Dylan song “Sara,” Hall and Oates' song “Sara Smile,” and even the Fleetwood Mac song “Sara” all were released years before I was born. The Starship song came later, as did the Ben Folds song “Zac and Sara,” and the Rascal Flats song “Sara Beth.” But pretty much all musical Saras lack the H.
If anything, missing that last letter should make my name easier to spell. But you’d be surprised how many of my lifelong friends get it wrong.
I would understand the problem if my name was pronounced “Sara” but spelled Askjdaksdjaskdjasdkajsdhjsdgfshgdosuehfwer. But in this case, it should be pretty obvious.
When I was a kid, it was the most frustrating thing in the world. I could never find those stupid little license plates with my name spelled correctly. Whenever I got a nameplate necklace, my mom had to break the H off for me. In elementary school I would have to surreptitiously scribble the H off of whatever my teachers had set up for us. If I was caught, it was vandalism, even though I was just trying to correct my name.
It was completely beyond my comprehension why such a normal, average name could cause such problems.
On my birthday, for example, about half of the people who wished me happy birthday on my Facebook page got my name wrong. I thought about de-friending all of them, but then I’d be left with very few friends. I think that’s a good measure of true friendship; if they can spell your name, they’re keepers.
Sometimes I think my mother did this to me on purpose. Not out of spite, but out of overcompensation. Her name is Carole with the Carole Lombard-inspired E at the end. Maybe she thought she was doing me a favor by leaving off that letter, so I would never know what it felt like to have someone ignore a letter of my name. She probably didn’t know that her plan would backfire and that I would spend my life pronouncing my name “Sara-no-H.” Sometimes it feels like my real middle name is “No H” instead of Elizabeth.
The good thing about the spelling difficulty is that it creates an instant bond between Saras. We have a united front against the common enemy: the Sarahs. We no-H-ers have to stick together. And maybe someday we’ll figure out a way to teach the world that there’s only one REAL way to spell the name.
And then all the H-ers will know what it feels to have an invisible but spoken suffix at the end of their name when they have to introduce themselves as “Sara-with-an-H.”
Until then, please try to spell my name right. Or else when I’m a famous author and you ask for an autograph, I’m going to spell your name wrong as payback.