“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.”