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The Last Name

By Dan Soslowsky:

“Arnold Robinson?” she calls out to the class.

“Here,” Jack answers.

The substitute teacher scribbles a check mark on her attendance sheet and moves onto the next name, “Elaine Smith?”

“Here,” the student responds.

We’re onto the Ss, I think, preparing for my name to be called.

“Alex Spencer?”


Here we go... she’ll never get it right. They never get it right.

The substitute teacher looks back down at her list and an expression of horror immediately spreads across her face.

“Dan S-Su--...” She looks up to the class, darts back down at her paper, and then up at the class again, hoping that someone will stop her in her struggle, claiming their impossible-to-pronounce last name. A stream of sweat falls down her forehead.

“Dan… uh, Soloh-- Soli-- Dan Solso-- Dan S-Solok-solonsky? Uhm…”

Muffled giggling fills the room.

“Dan Sonloh-- S-Solsow-- uh, Sullowky?”

After minutes of repeated failed attempts to call my name, what was once chuckling and giggling from my classmates transforms into a nervous hush. They all turn to me, waiting for me to end the the teacher’s suffering. Surely by now I would’ve announced my presence, saving the substitute teacher from having to solicit my name. But no. I sit and wait and watch the substitute teacher stand in front of the class and humiliate herself.

Situations like these happen all the time. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve just accepted that pronouncing my last name is an unconquerable task. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve just given in and started spelling my own name wrong too.

Written by Dan Solinski


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