“F” As In “FORGET IT.”

posted in: Day In The Life, Family 9
Able to BE Instagrammed but not able TO Instagram.
Able to BE Instagrammed but not able TO Instagram.

My name is impossible to understand over the phone.

Not the first half. “Mary” comes across okay, though I’ve been called “Mariam” a fair amount because I guess I make an “mm” sound when I finish saying my first name. (This is probably because I’m eating something.) It’s the “Fons” part that is tricky when I’m talking with a Customer Service Representative in a Customer Service Department, making a dinner reservation, or placing an order for something I’ve decided I need. The problem is that I’ve got an “F,” an “N,” an “S,” and a combined “O-N” in my name and all of these sounds are hard to decipher over the telephone:

1. “F” sounds like “S”
2. the combined “O-N” gives you a phantom “G” sound at the end (say it aloud, you’ll see what I mean)
3. “N” sounds like “M”
4. “S” sounds like “F” (see no. 1) but by the time I get there, it’s just chaos and it probably sounds like “Q” for heaven’s sake

For years now — and this is something I learned from my mother, who has the same problem since marrying a Fons man — I have done the following phone cha-cha:

“That’s Mary Fons. ‘F’ as in ‘Frank,’ O, ‘N’ as in ‘Nancy,’ ‘S’ as in ‘Sam.'” 

Every time. Every time I’m on the phone with a stranger who needs my last name:

“Yes, it’s Mary Fons. ‘F’ as in ‘Frank,’ O, ‘N’ as in ‘Nancy,’ ‘S’ as in ‘Sam.'” 

And it doesn’t always help, bringing in the gang. Frank, Nancy, and Sam don’t always get the job done, as evidenced by mail I get addressed to Mary Song, Mary Fong, Mary Sons, etc., as often as I get mail for, you know, me. Whenever Mary Song gets mail, I see myself in a parallel universe. I am Korean, and I have come to the U.S. because I married a guy from the Navy.

Yuri has heard me talk about Frank n’ Nancy* — and Sam — enough times to wonder about it and now I am self-conscious. It really does make more sense to use the actual phonetic alphabet (that’s Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) if I’m going the “sounds like” route over the phone. That means my line,

“Mary Fons. ‘F’ as in ‘Frank,’ O, ‘N’ as in ‘Nancy,’ ‘S’ as in ‘Sam.”

Will now be:

“Mary FONS. ‘F’ as in “FOXTROT.’ O. ‘N’ as in ‘NOVEMBER.’ ‘S’ as in ‘SIERRA.'”

This is going to work, I think, even if it makes me sound crazier than I already do, over-enunciating my name into a telephone receiver, making “ffffff!” sounds to get the ‘F’ in ‘Fons’ across when the person on the other end thinks I’m saying my first name is Frank.

*Interesting to note: “Frank and Nancy” is also a couple from a line in “New Age,” a Velvet Underground song. Lou Reed sings, “It seems to be my fancy/to make it with Frank and Nancy.”

9 Responses

  1. Lisa D.
    | Reply

    What if you supersized your voice into the phone and applied a severe New Jersey accent ? Would that expedite your communique?

    • Mary Fons
      | Reply

      Ha! That…is actually totally effective. Wow. 🙂

  2. Carrie
    | Reply

    Simple names cause so many problems. Maiden name Bransom, but often spelled Branson, Branscum, and the one I never understood…Branscumpayne. Whuuuuuh?

  3. Jessica
    | Reply

    I feel your pain. See, I married Greek and now my last name is Alexandrakis. I have to spell it on every single phone call with some company or business, just like you do. But now my kindergartener has learned to spell it the same way I do for people on the phone.. A-L-E-X, A-N-D-R, A-K-I-S. (I am amazed he has learned how to spell this before he turned 6. His middle name is Constantine, we’re still working on that one). Worse still is when someone asks for my last name, I tell them, and they assume I’m giving “Alex” as my first name. So I am “Alexandrakis, Jessica” always. And the pronunciation, well… what can I expect? I’ve heard it all– ALEXANDRA-Kiss, AlexanDRAKE-iss, AlexanDRAHK-ASS. Sometimes I try to teach people.. it’s like there are two guys, ALEX and ROCKY. Now we’re going to their house– Alex and Rocky’s. It’s that simple, but even my extended family still gets it wrong. I love them for trying.

    Congrats on the new book, btw. Can’t wait to see it. I really wish I could make your City Quilter event but I’m going to be traveling that week. I wish you all the best~

  4. Meredithe
    | Reply

    With Meredithe as a first name, I’ve given up and now for phone orders for take away meals, I’m Cate (yes, I like to think it starts with a “C” not a “K” – thankfully they, at the other end of the phone, can’t see that!)

  5. carla
    | Reply

    You might as well go full tilt: Foxtrot, Oscar, November, Sierra.

  6. Coley
    | Reply

    I learned at a young age to do the whole “V as in victor, E, R, B as in boy, I, C, K” thing. But instead of doing this at the drive thru pharmacy, I just send them my ID or debit card. It just seems silly to spell it out when we’re separated by a glass window, even if the sound quality isn’t the greatest.

  7. Kate
    | Reply

    Echo, November, delta, echo, Romeo, sierra, bravo, echo

    I’ve been Endersbe, Endersbee, Endersma, Endersbe, Enderski, Enderbono, Endersbe. What kind of name is that?!

  8. Summer
    | Reply

    My parents told me that they named me “Summer” so that people wouldn’t have a hard time spelling my name. Guess what I always get asked to spell?

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