I am not the only Frank Smith


Frank Smith considers the complexities of having a common name @ The Morning News.
The first email came from a woman named Emma. Emma had been stalked before and no longer sent photos by email, she wrote.She was an Australian with a slim build, small bones, a slender neck, and long brown hair. She first wrote to me over the Christmas holiday. Well, she was writing to me, but she thought she was writing to someone else. I was born Francis Joseph Smith. My father is Francis Edward and my grandfather was Francis Marlo. Both men went by their middle names. The name Francis has long been a family name—going back at least as far as the Civil War, starting with my great-great-grandfather. He had a farm, which is named the Frank Smith Farm. There’s a farm named after me. It’s an old farm, old enough to give me a solid claim to Frank Smith. Still, there are a lot of us Frank Smiths out there. Who knows what they have named after them?Sometimes when I meet someone for the first time and tell them that my name is Frank Smith, they think I am joking. Hotel clerks have reassured me about their privacy policies when I’ve signed in at the front desk. For a long time I became so self-conscious of my name that whenever a new person misheard Craig, Greg, Clark, Fred, or even Jason when I said “Frank,” I let them think whatever they wanted to think. I spent an entire afternoon with a ski instructor who—for some reason—thought I’d said my name was Jeff. It made all of my fears of downhill skiing go away each time he called me that. Jeff cracked jokes about Sonny Bono that no one else found funny—and never once fell. For a few hours, I was able to live as someone who wasn’t named Frank Smith. It can be addictive.read more