Whenever I give someone my name—say, when I’m making a restaurant reservation—the other person invariably asks me to spell it. This has happened my whole life, and my father’s whole life before me. And my name is not difficult to spell! I have known people named Szczepanski, Schweikhardt and Schuldheisz: you think maybe they have had problems making reservations?
Thankfully, there is one exception to this rule, one place where I have never had to spell my name—my ancestral homeland of Italy. Making a reservation there is like a breath of fresh air:
“E il nome?” (And the name?)
“Mostardi, perfetto. Arrivederci!”
You have no idea how liberating this is. Better yet, this extends also to Italian restaurants in America run by native speakers. Just today I reserved a table at Ideale, our favorite dinner spot in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. We spoke in Italian, and he didn’t ask how to spell my name. Ahhhh. It’s a beautiful thing.