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What name can be spelled only one way?

Posted Apr 21 2011 7:24am

Speak and Spell

This is not a riddle. Well, I suppose it could be a riddle, but I’m asking it as an honest question. What name can be spelled only one way? I need to know because of Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks.

I circulate among several coffee shops in the Chapel Hill area to do my freelance work because I don’t want to get sick of any one place or any one background soundtrack. I sometimes visit the Starbucks and they always ask your name so they can write it on your cup in thick black permanent marker. One of the few constants in my thirty-plus years on this Earth is that no one ever knows how to spell my name. I like my name, (great job Mom and Dad!) but I spell it a bit oddly (not so great job, Mom and Dad!). Misspellings used to annoy me all through high school, but by the time I reached college I either chilled out about it or admitted defeat and let it go. My linguistics teacher always said spelling doesn’t matter anyway. Now I let people spell it however they like as long as it isn’t on something important like a driver’s license or my book cover. (Not kidding about the second one. This is why we have design proofs.)

However, when I tell the people at Starbucks to put the name “Jennette” on my cup, they ask me how to spell it as if they’re studying for the National Spelling Bee. That’s when this happens:








BARISTA: E-T-T-E. Got it!

JENNETTE: (Finally.)

Sometimes this happens instead:

BARISTA: J-O-H-N-N-E-T-A, double back slash, upside down exclamation point, ampersand?

JENNETTE: Yes, that’s right.

So, in the hopes of never, ever having a conversation about how to spell my name with a barista ever again, I have started using aliases. First I tried “Jenna” but then the barista asked me if that was with two Ns or one. Then I switch to Jen, but again they wanted to know how many Ns were in the name. Next time I’ll probably try Jenny, but they’ll probably ask me if that’s with a Y or an I.

I’ve been trying to stick to names similar to my own so I don’t forget what I used by the time my order comes up. However, if I could just find a name, any name, that can only be spelled one way, I would start using that. Part of me wants to start using something ridiculous like Hitler, but then I imagine some cute guy will start talking to me and think that’s my real name and I’ll have to pretend to be Hitler for the rest of our relationship. I might try J.S., which are my first two initials, but that sounds rather pretentious and they’ll probably ask me if that’s J or Jay. Someone suggested I use my cats’ names, but I don’t think people know how to spell Krupke, and if I said my name was Java Bean they’d probably think I was asking for some weird blend.

Anyway, I am opening this up to the peanut gallery. Does anyone know an excellent Starbucks alias for me? It should be:

  1. A name that can only be spelled one possible way.
  2. A short name so the barista doesn’t spend forever writing on my cup.
  3. A name that doesn’t sound like another name. Janet wouldn’t work because it might be confused for Jeanette over the sound of coffee grinders.


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