“Don’t forget to dot the ‘I’!”

Oliver North signed pictureOne of the great events of my teenage years was getting to meet Oliver North, of Iran-Contra fame (or is that infamy?). He was running for the U.S. Senate at the time (1994), and actually came to Staunton as part of his campaign. We met him at Wright’s Dairy-Rite, a very cool vintage 50s drive-in place. And he was signing autographs. So we got one. I did the talking, and spelled our last name out for him. But he seemed to be wired to spell it “Schuman”, so I had to remind him not to forget to dot the “I”. It gives the autograph some character, since you can tell he corrected it, but it also points something else out that is a fact of life for me. People don’t know how to spell my last name. Everyone wants to spell it every conceivable way except the right way. I ought to just have my last name changed from “Schumin” to “Schumin S-C-H-U-M-I-N”, because that’s how it usually ends up working anyway. And just like in Oliver North’s case, I still have to correct people even after I’ve spelled it out for them. Now on my last name, usually they mess up the second letter, or the second-to-last letter. Now I will admit – the second letter, that “c”, will throw you for a loop, because it’s silent. However, the second-to-last letter is a product of people who just don’t pay close enough attention when I pronounce my name for them, making sure that it’s distinctly a short “I” sound. But such is life. Sometimes I wish I had a name like Smith, Jones, or Johnson, because people always know how to spell it, but then again, you realize that the spelling thing is just a small price to pay for having a unique name. I recently threw “Schumin” into Yahoo, and except for one mention each of my father, my mother, my sister, and my Aunt Mary, it was all me. Big ego-boost. So let us raise the name on high, and spell it proudly!

Date posted: June 24, 2002