What’s in a Name? (A Lot of Letters that Don’t Belong)

I haven’t met a whole lot of Allisons. I’ll admit that. I’m the only Allison I know on Facebook. Meanwhile, I have 8 friends named Sarah (or Sara), 6 Amandas, 5 Dans, 4 Johns and 3 Hollys. Most of my friends were born around the same time as me, give or take a few years, which means my parents were not on board with the popular baby names in the early ’80s. So I ended up with Allison.

Quad Portrait

And don’t get me wrong. I like Allison. I also like Sarah, Amanda, Dan, John and Holly. (Though I’m happy my parents didn’t name me Dan or John.) But I guess my point is that I never really considered my name to be all that odd or unique because I’ve grown up hearing it all the time. Living in Brooklyn, though, has made me wonder if my name is really as familiar for everyone else as it is for me.

I have not once — not once — had my name spelled correctly by someone since I moved to the city. Sometimes the misspellings (or mispronunciations) are understandable. For instance, my cute-as-a-button 5-year-old neighbor calls me (and Ivan) Alecson (pronounced Alec-son). Hey, that’s not too bad. I can go by Alecson.


But did someone at Starbucks overhear the little freckled monkey calling me that the other day? Because this is what they wrote on my cup when I gave my name. Huh… So you heard gibberish and just went with it? OK, cool, at least I feel modern now.

Yes, that is Dr. Husband photo bombing in the background.
Yes, that is Dr. Husband photo bombing in the background.

A couple months ago I signed up for a Rite Aid key chain card (what are those things actually called?) and the cashier asked for my name. I told her and when I looked at the screen I saw the misspelling, but I also saw exactly what she’d done. My name is Allison, right? Well, that sounds like the name Alice, but with an N tacked onto the end. So she spelled my name Alicen. I’d give that an A for effort!

Last summer I had a similar misspelling, but not quite as logical. It was another visit to Starbucks (sigh… why do I keep going?) and my iced coffee read Alicine. Now, for some reason I don’t like this one so much. I think it’s because Alicine looks like the name for a poison. I get this image of a shady looking dude carrying around a vial of Alicine to silence some key witness in a high profile murder case. Or I’ve been watching too much TV.


What surprises me the most about all of these misspellings is that none of them are what you’d expect. Here’s what I expect: Alison. That’s it. Just an L missing. And that’s all I ever got when I lived in Pennsylvania. In Brooklyn, though, my name is something special!


6 responses to “What’s in a Name? (A Lot of Letters that Don’t Belong)”

  1. I don’t even give my full name anymore, haven’t done so in years. As far as most folks know, it’s Tre. And, you won’t believe how they still jack that up. Lol Allison is a cool name, I actually go for the spelling of your name when I hear it. But, I know an Alysson and an Alison.

    • I got that picture when we were all at Central Park and the kids were crawling all over those rocks. Kevin was probably acting like a spider monkey in the background, so you might not have noticed me taking this photo 😉

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