When we last left our heroine, she was contemplating her bookish tendencies and their prevalence among the females of her clan, a curious tribe called:
[No, Spellchecker, it is not a typo.]
Firstly, the facts. Oelschlaeger is German. The literal translation is “oil beater” or “oil hammer,” the implication being that the Oelschlaegers of old pressed olive oil and probably wine. (Our forebears immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800s and settled in Hermann, Missouri, not so coincidentally the “Heart of Missouri Wine Country.” Which makes no excuse for my extremely low alcohol tolerance, but that’s off the point.)
The pronunciation is simple if you pay attention to the phonics:
As to the spelling, the key is to learn young. It’s actually got a very phone-numberish cadence to it. The nicely symmetrical twelve letters probably help.
Rattle it off a few times to a preschooler and he or she will have it in no time.
I should mention I think there are many positive character traits groomed into children who grow up with unusual names. Patience. Forbearance. A good sense of humor. Precise diction.
(If you find yourself puzzled by this point, please remember that I relinquished the name almost twelve years ago, so some of these traits no longer apply…)
For example, I’m sure it took some patience on the part of my parents when my preschool teacher taught me how to write my name all by myself — albeit spelled incorrectly.
By the time I was about ten, I was demonstrating patience in public forums. The local Dillards put on a Spring fashion show that year and my sister and I modeled. As each girl walked “the runway,” a commentator introduced her, gave a quick bio — or whatever passes as a “bio” for a girl who has yet to hit puberty — and described the outfit she wore.
At least, that’s what was supposed to happen.
When my turn came, I remember being a good distance down the runway before the commentator began, which should have been warning enough. But I was blissfully unaware of any mishap until:
“Up next we have Abby…uh…Ocean…Oceanburger from Springdale, wearing…”
I didn’t stop or collapse or start to cry. But I was crushed. (It doesn’t take much at that age, does it?) My modeling debut belonged to someone else. Oceanburger.
In hindsight, I kinda feel bad for the commentator. Maybe someone should have invested the time in a little phonetic spelling to make his life easier, huh?
As a homeschooled high school junior and senior, I took classes at the local community college as part of “concurrent enrollment.” I know it took some forbearance to endure the first roll call of each semester, watching the instructor rattle off the first ten or fifteen names before: “Ols — Osh —Oshagayger — uh, Abby? Is that you?”
Yes. That was me.
College was a bit better. I was a little more confident, a little less of a freak. (After all, I was in the Drama Department.) College also seemed to be the incubator for nicknames. Several of Scott’s fraternity brothers called me “Goldschlager.”
On the upside, my last name make junk mail and telemarketers extremely easy to spot. “I’m calling to offer Abigail Oceanburger dramatically reduced interest rates on a no-fee, high-limit credit card —”
I’m sorry. There’s no one here by that name.
I always knew when a guy got serious about me because he learned how to say and spell my last name. It’s all about commitment.
When Scott and I got engaged, someone asked me if I planned to hyphenate my name.
I think that would be carrying familial pride a little far.