It happened again last week — and if you’d been a mouse in my kitchen you’d have wondered about my sanity seeing me laughing and talking out loud to myself.
I’d just sent an email to a publicist in New York City requesting a book for review in The Missourian. I send hundreds of these requests annually, contacting an ever-evolving palette of publicists, who circle publishing houses like tokens on a Monopoly Board — from Penguin Random to Simon and Schuster to MacMillian, and others as young people climb book-pushing ladders.
Here We Go Again
The root of my humor was a response I got from publicist Christine, who wrote she’d be happy to send me a copy of the book I needed, addressing an email to me, “Dear Chuck.” I have lost track of how many times this has happened in the past, funnies from the Big Apple that never cease to crack me up.
I’ve also repeatedly been mistaken for a man by the folks in NYC because I use the shorter version of my first name, which I’m sure most people would do if they had a gut-buster of a last name like mine. Stuckenschneider has been the source of other columns I’ve written, as has Chuck, which I wrote about once when a man, not a woman, named Chuck started a “Chuck” club with overwhelming success. (There wasn’t a female in the bunch as I remember.)
Those with surnames like Smith, Voss, Johnson, Swift, etc., make me weep with envy. For someone short on patience, like me, writing our 16-letter last name is torture, a practice that ends in a hurried signature rivaling chicken scratch that physicians are well known for. I write “Stu” fairly clearly and make a zippy line out of the other 13 letters.
The recent email was ironic because it came from a Christine, which is the name my parents gave me. The only person who ever called me that was Gary Stewart, a childhood buddy from Gerald, and my dad, who never shortened it, even when I was called out for an infraction.
Not Even Close
Chris is a far cry from Chuck. Though they both have five letters and start with “C” they’re phonetically quite different. Chris can be feminine or masculine, but Chuck is reserved for males, often given to those named Charles, which thankfully I’ve never been called, or worse yet, Charlie.
My Chuck dilemma worries me as I try to decide how to handle it. Do I correct the misnomers, or simply let them go? On occasion, I’ve sent tactful email explanations back to the big Apple, trying to appear as girly as possible with my word choices — but not going so far as to write in pink ink with a flowery font.
Some publicists blow off their errors with not so much as an apology, which makes me wonder how those Andys would take to being called Annie. Other times, I get a cute “whoops” or some other lighthearted quip in the subject line when I send a correction.
Chuck and Such
In actuality, I have a long history with “Chuck,” it being the name of the first dog Spark and I got after we were married, and also was the name of the main character in “Patriotic Pals,” a picture book I wrote.
So I have some affection for the name. And why grouse about it anyway? Chuck was good enough for Charlie Brown, it preempts Stuckenschneider nicely and is less difficult to spell than Mykityshyn, the last name of the Christine who emailed me last week and made me laugh in “my kitchen,” which might be the pronunciation of her last name.
We’ll never know.