No, this is not a post about my crazy brain that’s going to make your head spin.
Nor is this a post that’s about an undiscovered temple in the Cambodian rainforest.
Nope, it’s just your everyday, average rant about something I don’t like.
You know when you start a conversation with someone new, or you get introduced to someone new? The conversation normally goes something like this.
YOU PERSON: Hi there.
ME: Hi, nice to meet you!
YOU PERSON: Nice to meet you too. I’m [You], what’s your name?
ME: I’m Jacob.
YOU PERSON: Jacob…what?
::explosion of rage in my head::
I know this is super weird and really, really petty, but why in the world do you need to know my last name, before we continue with the niceties like “how are you?” or “where are you from?”
First of all, let’s start with You. Nine times out of ten, you introduce yourself as You. Not as You Person, not Mr./Mrs. You Q. Person, but You. And then you expect me to tell you my last name?
If I want you to know my last name right off the bat, I’ll tell you, no big deal. But when you hold that expectant pause, it’s like you can’t go on in life without knowing my last name, despite me not knowing yours. It puts me in a super-awkward spot then, because, what if I don’t want you to know my last name right now? What if I don’t feel like introducing myself beyond the “Hi-I’m-Jacob-nice-to-meet-you-bye” today? What if it just plain doesn’t matter because we’re never going to see each other again, and by the time we do, we’ll have forgotten each other’s first names?
I’ve caught myself saying it to people a few times, especially when I know I’ve met them before but can’t quite place them, but unless I’m flirting (and actually, this is probably a very unsexy way to start a conversation; maybe this is why I don’t date), there’s no need to demand information from anyone when you first meet them.
Most people I’ve met in life do not do this. The demographic of people who ask this question is usually 40s-70s, male, and Jewish. Quite possibly a rabbi, who then wants to know your hometown, your parents’ names, your Hebrew name, what shul you go to, and if you’ve put on tefillin this morning (if you’re a male). But in general, it’s just nosy people who want to add another possible notch to their Jewish geography standings. Now, don’t get me wrong, Jewish Geography is the Game of Champions – seriously, if it were an Olympic sport, I would try out for the team – but I generally don’t break out into full-on JG until the second or third time we meet, or if it’s a situation neither of us can get out of, like waiting for a bus, stuck in a really long line, or in the trenches of the wintry French countryside in World War I. Unfortunately, to the above demographic, if you choose not to engage with their question, you kinda look like an asshole, and even more so if you lie.
Then this happens:
“Jacob Bergenpretzel. Bergenpretzel? Of the New York Bergenpretzels or the Miami Bergenpretzels? You’re from Germany, right…which part? Are you related to Milton Ber-no, wait-Melvin Bergenpretzel? No? How about Gertrude Bergenpretzel? I knew a Gertrude Bergenpretzel, she used to play mahj with my mother-in-law…was she your grandmother, or cousin, or maybe a great-aunt? Is Bergenpretzel short for something? What’s your mother’s maiden name?”
And then they get into health insurance form territory and it’s just a downward spiral from there. Especially because you know that all the answers will be no, because you just plucked Bergenpretzel out of the back of your brain.
So here’s a solution: get to know me a little better. Ask me where I’m from, or how my day was, or what’s on my mind. Then ask for the rest of the details. Or just don’t ask me that question at all because I don’t owe you a thing, it’s that simple.
Unless you’re from the IRS.
In which case, you probably already know my last name.
Holla for a six-continent day; what up, USA, Chile, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, India, Sudan, Australia?