Go ahead, call me some names


“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other word
would smell as sweet.”

– William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet

Farm and Dairy advertising representative Georgeanne Wolf hand-delivered the fax.

“I just wanted to see if you had turned into a man,” she said, grinning.

The fax cover sheet was marked to the attention of “Mr. Susan W. Crowell.”

I realize some people are surprised to find a woman editor of a farm newspaper, so maybe this was just a typical it-must-be-a-male-editor mistake. I would have thought my first name would have been a dead giveaway. But then again, that famous Johnny Cash song, A Boy Named Sue, proves me wrong.

For the record, I am not a man, and I’ve got two ID wristbands from the maternity ward at Salem Community Hospital to prove it. And stretch marks.

I’m not sensitive about what you call me. Kind of like that comedy shtick from the 1970s (revived in the ’90s on the Simpsons) where the guy gets called by his last name and then goes into a never-ending soliloquy, “Oh, you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me R.J., or… ”

So if you address the envelope to “Mr.”, well, I’ve been called worse. In fact, I rather like being known as “Ms. Farm Dairy,” which is how the National Trust for Historic Preservation labeled a recent mailing. I can even envision it on a princess-like sash I could wear around the office. Just don’t ask how I did in the swimsuit competition.

After being a Miller for 22 years, Crowell was hard for even me to get used to, so I can’t blame the western Pennsylvania extension agent who has called me Cromwell ever since we met – in 1985. Maybe he shared his mailing list with the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which used to send me mail with that name.

Cromwell has that lofty “Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland” kind of connection. Maybe there’s something to that one. Do you think that would fit on the sash, too? I’ve got big hips.

Several years ago, a letter came addressed to Susan Reeves. I suppose the sender looked at a new reference for my first name and a mid-1980s reference for the last name of then-editor Tim Reeves. Voila, you have Susan Reeves. Works for me.

It’s better than the beef cattle enterprise that still sends us mail addressed to Editor Elden R. Groves (and Mr. Groves died in 1993). I really wouldn’t think anything of it, but we talk to this guy every year at the Ohio Beef Expo and numerous times during the year. What’s wrong with this picture?

But gender confusion continues to plague this office. The Vermont Sheep Breeders’ Association must have partially mistook me for my dad, because its envelope came addressed to Don Crowel.

On second thought, I’m sure it’s meant as a title of respect, like Don Corleone in The Godfather. Sure, sure, that’s got to be it, don’t you think?

But do I have to take off the sash?


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