There Must Be Some Mistake

I enjoy having a unique name; truly I do.  My Southern family has proudly mingled historical, traditional, and oft times fanciful names into the fabric of the ancestral tree for generation upon generation on both sides.

My brother, the first born, became a junior with no questions asked.  This meant my mother had free reign on my name. My first name, Bowen, is my mother’s maiden name.   I am grateful because my grandfather’s first name was Ralph. Sparkman, my middle name, was grandfather Barrs’ middle name. This was also a good call since his first name was Byrd. Sparkman was also my great grandmother’s maiden name, so a multigenerational nod to dad’s side of the family made everyone happy.  Bowen Sparkman Barrs.

I have spent my entire life explaining my name, and most of the time I have no problem doing so.  However, I have a pet peeve about office personnel not being able to comprehend my name.  Come on!  They’re paid to take information accurately over the phone!

“Thank you for calling Dr. Conrad’s office, this is Stephanie, How may I help you?”

“I’d like to make an appointment as a new patient please.”

“Alright sir.  Let me get some information from you.  May I have the correct spelling of your last name?” This is where it starts; why would I spell it incorrectly?

“ Barrs, B-a-r-r-s”

“Alright Mr. Barf, may I have your first name?”

“No, S.  S as in Sam”

“Sam Barf.  And your date of birth, Sam?”

“That’s wrong.”

“How could it be wrong? You haven’t given it to me yet?”

“My name is wrong.”


“Because it’s not Sam”

“Then why did you tell me it was?”

“I didn’t.  I told you my last name had an S at the end. S as in Sam”

“I’m sorry, an S on the end…Okay Mr. Barfs, now that we’ve gotten your last name straightened out, let’s get that first name on file, shall we?”



“No, Bowen.”

“I hope you don’t mind me saying, but Nobowen Barfs is rather an unusual name.  Where is your family from?”

“I give up!”

“Well, many people don’t know their family history. Can I have your middle name?”

“Oh, Christ!”

“Middle name, O’Christ. Well that sounds Irish!”

“My middle name is Sparkman”

“You’re kidding, right? Spartan can’t possibly be your middle name.”

“Your right.  It can’t possibly be.”

“Is this a prank call?”

“I’m beginning to wonder.”

“I’m going to hang up now, if you’re through.”

“No! My name is Bowen, B-o-w-e-n, Sparkman S-p-a-r-k-m-a-n, Barrs, B-a-r-r-s. Got it?

“Bowen… Sparkman… Barrs?”

“YES!  That’s it!”

“Really? That is such an unusual name!”

“Well, when you compare it to something common like, Nobowen Spartan Barfs, I suppose you’re right. It’s been a pleasure talking with you Step- Hammie.”

“No, Stephanie”

“Nostephanie? Hey! I wonder if we’re related. Are you Irish?”

family tree

©Bowen Barrs and Communicationchaos January 2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bowen Barrs and Communicationchaos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


2 thoughts on “There Must Be Some Mistake

  1. You are hilarious & I’m so grateful we met. We had a similar life filled with infuriating phone conversations with administrative personnel explaining our former last name. Ready? C-H-M..I-E-L…E-W…SKI ! Literally EVERYONE gave up & moved on to our simple first names…Peter & Jennifer; )

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