Not only am I growing old, but my name is being phased out. I wonder if other people whose names also begin with O followed by an apostrophe, as in O'Grady, are having my experience with their surnames.
About ten years ago I began to notice that when I had to spell my name in a store or such, the person taking the info would often give me a blank look when I said "apostrophe." As a former English teacher, I shuddered.
It's only gotten worse. I usually don't give a quick grammar lesson, because it will only result in embarrassment for both of us.
Furthermore, when I fill out a form online, it often gets tossed back to me saying that it can't accept my name. So I get rid of the apostrophe and it usually goes through. It will get tossed back again, however, if the spelling doesn't agree with what they had on file from some other time.
My driver's license is Ogrady, but the Oak Park Library accepts O'Grady. My Medicare card is Ogrady, but my Blue Cross-Blue Shield insists on Mary K O Grady, and I usually have to explain that I am the same person as the one on my Medicare card, YOU'VE JUST FILED ME UNDER G!
Once when I entered the country after 9/11, the name on my passport didn't agree with my driver's license and I had to get out of line and haul my luggage around to get it straightened out. I think the security guy did it on purpose. Seriously, the photos on both documents are almost identical. Maybe he was English.
I've noticed it's fashionable for some young parents to throw an apostrophe willy nilly into their child's name. It makes for a bit of panache, but the computer will eventually take care of that, I'm sure.
O, by the way, O is a word all by itself, part of a patronymic. The apostrophe that usually follows the O actually comes from a misunderstanding by English-speaking clerks in Elizabethan time, who interpreted it as a form of the word "of." It must be so. I found it on the computer.
Please understand that I am not a member of the "professional Irish," a term my family used to refer to those who made a career of promoting their nationality, their parish, their brushes with alcohol poisoning on St. Patrick's Day, and Notre Dame. By the way, the thing I like best about Ireland lately is that they've broken their ties to the Vatican over the sexual abuse issue.
So, my fellow "where's my apostrophe?" sufferers, what shall we do about this? We could protest, but it's cold out. We could write letters, but to whom? I know, let's talk it to death! How about O'Sullivan's in Forest Park?
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