It's spelled Schmatjen. It's pronounced "Smidgen", like a smidgen of this, and a smidgen of that. No one in the family knows why. It's German, but some kind of strange hill-people German that were more Austrian or Swiss or Drunk than actual Germans.
So we all went by "Smidge". Once you pronounce it for people, that's your nickname. No getting around it, and all in all it's a pretty good deal for a kid. There is never really any doubt about what you might get called later in life. If you're destined for a certain nickname, it's nice to know ahead of time that it's going to be palatable. No chewing your nails wondering what fate might befall you on the playground. Through a twist of fate will I forever be branded "Stinky" or "Monkey Butt"? Nope. Not with a last name like Schmatjen. All that being said, I went through college known as "Schmeg". Thanks Jeff!
In the Schmatjen clan, there is a general rule that because of the last name's inherent spelling and pronunciation issues, the first names had better be fool-proof. So, inexplicably, my folks named me Marc with a "C". I'm not sure what they were thinking at the time, but looking back on it, it seems ill-advised. I have always liked it, but it invariably adds and extra dimension to the name explaining process that we Schmatjens constantly go through. I have learned from this experience, and have named all three of my boys very common and traditionally-spelled names. Constantinople, Madagascar & Lyb'ya are the apple of my eye!
One upside to having Schmatjen as a last name is that any other Schmatjen that you catch wind of is 100% definitely related to you. Take that, Smith and Johnson! I am proud to have had three sons that will some day perpetuate the Schmatjen name. Not because I am overly fond of it, but more because having more Schmatjens out in the world increases the chance, however minutely, that one of us will become famous and the rest of us can stop having to explain how to pronounce/spell the damn name!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2008 Marc Schmatjen
Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
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