My last name is pronounced “PASStiss.” It’s Greek. I don’t really care how people pronounce it, but most people who say it for the first time give it a French twist: “pahSTEES.”
It’s not a problem, because few strangers try to pronounce my last name on a day-to-day basis.
Except my eternal nemesis:
The Safeway clerk.
For reasons unknown, someone at my grocery store has decided that when the clerk hands me my receipt, they should glance at the name on my Safeway card, and say, “Thank you, Mr. Pastis.”
Except it doesn’t come out that way.
Instead, it’s “Thank you, Mr. Uhhhhh” followed by a pause long enough for me to read all of the headlines on the front page of the National Enquirer and the Weekly World News.
And that’s when my stomach starts hurting.
Not because they’re about to make my name sound closer to “Pepe LePew” than “Pastis.” But because I’m going to have to interact with another human.
You see, I’m a guy who will avoid sneezing in public to avoid the danger of some stranger around me saying, “Bless you.”
A few weeks ago, the exchange reached a new low. Instead of the usual French-sounding “pahSTEES,” the Safeway clerk handing me the receipt gave my name an entirely new twist:
Yes, pasties. For the innocent among you, take a few moments to “Google Image” that one.
Of course, I should have let it go at that.
But that would have been something normal people do. And besides, I have a history with these Safeway clerks.
So I replied.
“It’s ‘PASStis.’ Not ‘pasties.’ ‘Pasties’ are something that strippers wear to cover their nipples.”
It’s here that I should tell you something you’d probably have no reason to otherwise know:
Safeways can get really quiet.
I believe I heard crickets as the clerk handed me the receipt and put the last bag in my grocery cart.
She did not ask if I needed help taking my groceries to the car. She did not thank me for shopping at Safeway.
She just looked down as I shuffled out of that Safeway in shamed silence, the back wheel of my shopping cart squeaking all the way. And all I could think was one thing:
My comedy is far ahead of its time.