I was not in the meeting

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It seems like everybody, including Tom, Dick, and Harry was in the June meeting with Don, Jr. at Trump Tower. I was not in the meeting, for what it’s worth. At first, my feelings were hurt since I didn’t get an invite, but it’s just as well. I could never have pronounced all those names anyway. Can imagine yourself being introduced to Natalia Veselnitskaya?

“Mr. Roberts,” Don Junior says, “This is Ms. Veselnitskaya.”

“Vesel-who?” I might reply. “Nice to meet you Ms. V.”

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I look around for a moment and here comes Paul Manafort. I like the name Paul. It’s so New Testament!

“Lynn,” Paul says, “Say hello to Rinat Akhmetshin. Rinat is a lobbyist in Washington.”

“Hello Rinnie,” I say, as I shook his hand, then looked at my hand to see that I still had all my fingers and my thumb. “For whom do you lobby?”

Mr. Akhmetshin replies, “I’m helping Ms. Veselnitskaya with the Magnitsky Act. She is asking the Congress to repeal the law.”

Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya, Magnitsky, all those names, in addition to sending my spellcheck into orbit, slows my typing to a crawl. My opening sentence referenced Tom, Dick, and Harry. Now those are some good names.

I don’t know which is more difficult; to read the Russian phonebook or the Old Testament. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Or how about King Nebuchadnezzar?

The Bible is a good place to go for difficult names. Sometimes they took common names, good names and changed them to names that were more appropriate for the countries in which they were. Or they changed the names so that Sunday School teachers or preachers could attempt to say the name and finish with “Or something like that!”

Consider Joseph, the favored son of Jacob. He was sold to the Egyptians and they simply could not handle such a simple name as Joe. So the Pharaoh gave Joe a new name. Get ready for this one. Zaphnath-Paaneah.

I can imagine when Jacob was brought into Egypt and saw his son, Joseph, for the first time in a long time.

“Little Joe,” Jacob exclaimed. “I never thought I would see you again.”

Joseph took a step toward his father, but said, “Dad, I’m no longer known as Joe. My new name is Zaphnath-Paaneah and I am married to Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah.” Joseph might as well told his daddy his name was Rinat Akhmetshin.

I have a fairly easy name to pronounce and I can remember those times in school or other places where everyone was new and we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves. After living with our names for all of our lives, we might not like them all that much, but thankfully, mine has never caused me embarrassment.

I wonder what it is like to go through that exercise in Russia.

“My name is Alexandr Solzhenitsyn,” the famous Russian author might have said when he was nine or ten. The next person might have been Mikhail Gorbachev. We probably know those two names, but still couldn’t pronounce them rightly. Going around the room in Russia might take a long time.

Finally, here are some real names that might cause a chuckle or two if one had to introduce himself to a class. Remember, these are real names.

From a wedding announcement, I read that Mr. McDonald is marrying Ms. Berger. If they have a hyphenated name their child will be introduced as McDonald-Berger.

Mr. Chris P. Bacon is a musical technical advisor in Hollywood. Matthew Correspondent is a European news correspondent for the BBC.

I guess Lynn is not so bad.