My last name, as you've probably surmised from the title of my blog, is Canada. It's a pretty simple name, consisting of three easily pronounced syllables. It's not like I took a handful of Boggle cubes, tossed them on the table and adopted the resulting gibberish as my moniker.
It's not even a particularly rare or exotic name. According to the howmanyofme website, there are 10,352 other people named Canada in the U.S., and 163 Robert Canadas. Heck, there's even another Robert Canada here in Evansville who's no kin to me.
Despite its simplicity, the public seems to have a hard time comprehending my surname. When I tell someone my last name, a puzzled look will usually cloud their face as they struggle to understand what they've heard. Many times they will simply assume they couldn't have possibly heard me correctly and will substitute another name they think I most likely said.
For example, when I was a kid my dad and I went to a barber who labored under the delusion that our last name was Kennedy. He would even write Kennedy in his appointment book. No amount of persuasion or documented proof on our part could dissuade him of this notion.
Kennedy is the most common mangling my name, although at various times I've been called Canaday, Cannon, Campbell and many more.
Many, many people are at a loss as to how to spell my name. Most of them try spelling it with a "K." I'll try and help them out by saying, "Canada, like the country." Believe it not that doesn't always work. A surprising number of workers in the service industry have never even heard of the sovereign nation of Canada, much less know how to spell it. Even when they've heard of it, they still don't get it right, as they'll say, "Oh, is that spelled like the state?" Sometimes I weep for the future of our Republic.
Growing up was fun with a name like this. If I had a nickel for every time a schoolmate called me "Bob Mexico" I could pay off my mortgage. Sometimes the geography enthusiasts would be a little more creative and call me "Bob Quebec." You expect that kind of humor from ten year olds; however it still happens to this day. Grown-ass adults still make those same jokes, as if they're the first to ever think of them.
Dining out is always a treat with a name like this. A few years ago I went out to eat with a group of friends at a busy restaurant and had to wait for a table. When the hostess asked my name, I told her "Canada" of course. Half an hour later we heard her loudly announce: "Cannibal, party of three! Cannibal? Cannibal!" Everyone in the lobby, including me, was wildly looking around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the group of freaks with such a cockamamie last name. As the hostess continued to shout "Cannibal," it slowly dawned on me that she meant me. She honest to God thought my last name was Cannibal. Oy gevalt! I wearily rose to my feet and said, "Here," and we took the long walk of shame through the lobby, all eyes fixed on the party of cannibals.
At one point I actually considered changing my name to something simpler, but decided against it. Why should I have to change my name like a common criminal trying to avoid the law? The Smiths and Joneses of the world don't have to put up with this sort of thing, so why should I? I will say my name proudly, and the hostesses and service workers throughout the land will just have to deal with my name and learn to pronounce it properly. Even if it kills them. Or I do. This. Ends. Now!"