My Public Apology to My Maiden Name

Dear Schierer,

OK, so I was wrong about you. Schierer. S-C-H-I-E-R-E-R. Schierer. Pronounced roughly "sheer," but with maybe the tiniest extra "r" at the end. "Sheerr."

Not "shire" or "sheer-er" or as printed on my sophomore year book, "Schlerer." Certainly not "SHRY-er" or "SHRY-rer-rer."

I honestly used to blame you. That you were just a difficult and complicated name. That your Germanic ethnicity and redundant final letter pair confused people.

Now I realize it's not your fault. People just don't pay attention to name pronunciation conventions. People just don't try. Nor do they ask for help when uncertain.

When I married, I gladly traded you in for the simple and vastly more common, "Dugan." Heck, Dugan ranks in the top 1600 most common names in the U.S. (Whereas Schierer comes in around 58,000, with only 329 occurrences in the entire 2000 U.S. Census. I'm probably related to all of them.) The surname even has its own Wikipedia entry. Short, sweet, simple. DOO-gun.

I figured the days of telemarketers mispronouncing my name on the phone were behind me forever.

I figured wrong. Oh, so wrong.

We regularly get calls for the DUGG-uns, DURG-uns, DOWG-uns, even duh-GANS. Callers even add extra syllables, asking for the "O' DOOG-uns." And that's just the phone mistakes. Junk mail and spam e-mail folks seem to think it's not even our last name. My son has received things addressing him as "Mr. Dugan Matthews." Not a bad-sounding name, I have to admit, but wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, Schierer ... I realize it's not your fault. I was way to eager to shed you for a simpler name. It honestly never occurred to me that it wasn't you, it was everyone else.

My apologies,

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