Wood. It’s been my last name for as long as I can remember. It’s not as common as say a “Smith” or a “Jones”, but I’m sure it’s up somewhere near the top in terms of commonality. The truth is, I’ve really started to grow fond of it. With four letters, it’s an easy name for people to remember. And it also allows for me to be called “Woody”, a really cool nickname.
But I have to admit, growing up and having “Wood” as a last name angered me; especially during my school years. And I think my problem with it actually started way back in second grade.
In class, the teacher made a list of a dozen or so menial tasks for students to do over the course of the school year. Each student would be assigned a task to do every day for several weeks before moving on to the next task in the list. Some of the tasks were rather boring: like watering plants, washing windows and organizing paperwork. Others though were extremely cool: like actually going outside to clap out erasers (we’re talking 1977 here folks).
The nice thing (or so I thought) was that the coolest of the tasks (eraser clapping) was placed at the very top of the list, and I couldn’t wait for my turn. That is until the teacher decided how she was going to dole out the tasks to the students: alphabetically by last name. That meant that “A’s” clapped erasers first, then “B’s”… and so on.
insert heavy sigh here…..
Having already mastered my ABC’s a few grades ago, it didn’t take long to realize that having a “W” in my last name put me at an extreme disadvantage and meant that I would be one of the last kids to get the cool task. So, while some knucklehead whose last name just happened to start with an “A” clapped erasers, I would have to wash windows.
Yep, I was taught early on in life that being a “Wood” put me behind the 8 ball. Oh sure, I eventually got my chance to do the eraser clapping, but instead of remembering how cool it was to go outside and clap erasers for ten minutes, the thing I remember most is having to WAIT almost the entire school year to do it.
The curse of the “W” would continue throughout my school years. Everything from gym class activities to where you sat in Science and English classes became organized and/or assigned by the first letter of a last name. And can you imagine my sorrow when I’d go to class for the first time and notice there was a cute girl whose last name started a dozen or so letters before mine?
Chance of me sitting next to her? ZERO! It’s no wonder why I became an introvert.
I eventually would overcome my loathing of the “Wood” name though, and am now fully content with it. It’s also given me a great deal of respect for those poor souls whose last names start with a “Y” or “Z”.
Now, if I can only get people to stop asking me if I’m related to James Woods the actor.