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Carroll Vertrees: A name is a name ... unless it’s incongruous

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: October 24, 2012 6:18AM



I probably should not use a word like incongruity in mixed company because I am not absolutely sure what it means. But I can spell it and I think I saw one in my mail the other day.

It’s because of my name, probably. The package was heavy with medical advice, with hints of how to avoid surgery. I was invited to send for a free copy of “The Prostate Answer Book.” A bonus included “10 Vibrant Health Tips for Men.” I will not mention the details.

This wonderful package was addressed to Ms. Carrol Vertrees.

See? I found an incongruity right there in my mail.

My first name is a problem, I reckon.

Even some of my fans (I have a few) don’t get it. I got this nice note from a lady who thanked me for helping her recall some fond memories. I was touched until I noticed that her note was addressed to “Ms.”

That surprised me because a photo of my glorious full-length 120-pound hunk of masculinity was right there with my wonderful prose.

I desperately hope that the folks running the final roll call stuff will have a picture of me so that they will send me to the right dormitory and robe-fitting room.

I use the word dormitory because before I arrived at the little church college campus many years ago, this pretty coed welcomed me and said she would be my big sister. That first-name thing even then. It did not work out, but we had fun.

Names are funny things. A girl named Sarah is sometimes called Sally. And why do we call guys Jack when they are named John? Sometimes Margarets are called Peggy. Odd, but at least there is no gender question. Shakespeare (a male named Bill) had somebody ask what’s in a name, but I still don’t know for sure.

My first name can be spelled five ways. When I spell it out on a computer, it is always underlined as if there is a question. I wonder if the computer sees an incongruity.

I remember the great song about a boy named Sue, and I am jealous because he had a lot fun. Well, so do I.

One day a guy called and when I answered he asked “Is your mommy there?” I asked who he wanted and he said “Carrol.” I don’t know how he spelled it. I told him in my kid voice that she was busy.

I bought a new car and the guy who handled the sale sent me a thank-you note addressed to “Ms.”

This new girl at the doctor’s office called my name and was startled when I got up. She kept on looking for somebody else, like a female person. Surprise!

I was introduced to a fellow the other day and he said “Oh, yes. Vantrease.” He was thinking of Glen Vantrease, a really good guy who left the area years ago. So my last name is not a household word, and here I thought I was famous. Not so, I reckon.

Years ago a guy named U Nu (that’s right) was premier of Burma or some far-off place. We headline writers salivated when we got a story about him. Impossible to spell that name wrong, but I often wondered if he got mail addressed to Ms., well, you know, U Nu.

This name stuff keeps my mind off politics, a true incongruity.



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