My name is Larry Lehmer. Well, it’s actually Lawrence but just about everyone who actually knows me calls me Larry. Lawrence is used primarily for legal and business purposes and to help me screen out those phone calls from people who don’t actually know me but would have me believe I should know them, and share my worldly goods and/or knowledge with them.
My surname is certainly not the most common one around, but it’s not the most unusual, either. Nevertheless, it’s led to some confusion at times.
First, the pronunciation. It’s Laymer, not Leemer or Lemmer. I understand why people have trouble with the first syllable, but am totally befuddled how it often comes out Lehman. I suspect some people are just lazy readers, capturing the first part of a word and letting their imagination fill out the rest.
I would never use my last name on a waiting list at a restaurant. It’s on occasions like that where I often use a fictional name, like Bevo or Giuseppi (I let them spell that one phonetically).
Once in high school, the vice principal summoned a handful of ne’er-do-wells to his office for punishment. One of the names he read sounded similar to mine, once you took into account his routine butchering of names. Rather than risk further wrath, I showed up and he determined I was not the guilty party. “You’re lucky you’re not him,” he bellowed. Actually, luck had nothing to do with it.
As an adult, I’ve received phone calls from detectives in Iowa and adjacent states seeking to snare a fellow who was renting things and not returning them. My “crime?” I had a similar name and was listed in a phone book while the actual culprit was smart enough not to have his name and phone number in print.
What about you? How has your name impacted your own personal history? How about people close to you? As individuals, we are unique. Unfortunately, our names rarely are.
To read an earlier post I did on names, go here
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories. If you’d like to know more, visit his web site or send him an e-mail.
Flickr photo courtesy of Larry Bourgeois "Bobo".