Some people collect coins, stamps and bottles.
My wife, she collects names.
She has notebooks full of names and her computer also has a huge file.
This may seem like an odd activity, but not if you are her. You see her given name is a bit odd, and she feels empathy for people whose parents named them something out of the ordinary.
That's because her name, Chryrell, I mean Cheryl, I mean Shryle, no I mean Cheryll, no I mean Sherill (geez I finally got it right) is unusual enough that people often misspell it even when she tells them how to spell it. Sometimes they even think she is a guy, because hers is one of the male spellings for that name.
"People don't realize what they do to their kids when they either give them names with strange spellings or odd names," she said on Sunday morning as she pored over the upstate papers obituary sections on their websites with paper pad in hand. "It is difficult going through life with a name like that."
I know a little about that. My name being Richard certainly is very common and almost everyone can spell it. But my nick name. Rick, combined with Shaw, (Rickshaw) has cost me a lot of Oriental taxi cab jokes over the years. Name combinations are almost just as bad as strange spellings. During my teen years I knew this guy who went to another high school named Harry Pitts and he and I thought about starting a club for people with names like ours. But we never did.
Anyway back to my wife's propensity to collect names. I asked her what she was going to do with the list, and she said she wasn't sure, but certainly she will never write a book about them, because of all people, she would not want to spread the names she has found over the years so others could use them.
Actually it took me a long time to spell her name right too, even though we were married. I would spell it Sherrill or Sherril and she would see it and the hell I got, I deserved. Now I know I sometimes get people's names in the paper wrong when I write articles, and I profusely apologize for it, because it is not intentional. But if you get your wife's name wrong, you probably deserve the 30 lashes you get for being so dumb.
Anyway, she keeps the list somewhat secret. I have seen it, but I had to sign a confidentiality agreement to not divulge any of the spellings there. So I will not repeat some of the strange names and spellings she has found in articles, obituaries, wedding announcements and on the internet over the years. But I mainly am not repeating any of them because one persons idea of a strange name or spelling, well, is another persons name. It's kind of like your family. You can cuss them all you want, but let someone else outside the family cuss them, and hell will be paid. So I won't go there.
One of her prime sources of new odd spellings is the baby pages in various community newspapers. We get a lot of different papers sent to our office and I sometimes bring home spellings she can add to her list. She finds that many of today's parents are doing an outstanding job of causing confusion in the future of their child's lives. I guess to be different today, people have resorted to lots of y's for the traditional i's, u's for o's, sh's for c's, etc. etc. etc.
One of the things I have been yelled at the most about while I have worked at the paper is misspelling kids' names, whether it has to do with an event they are in, a sport they are playing or a theatrical production they are involved with.
Judging by what my wife is finding, I am glad I will be retired from the newspaper business when these newly named infants hit high school.
That's because there will be a lot more yelling over misspelled names than ever.