In honor of Al Franken's victory (woohoo!), I thought I would relate a little Al Franken story for you.
First of all, my mother has an unusual name. My grandfather's name was Eugene and my grandparents wanted to name my mom after her father. However, Eugenia struck them as old-fashioned. So, they dropped the "eu" and changed the spelling. The end result: Jeania.
My family used to be huge Saturday Night Live fans. None of us watch it anymore but we used to tune in religiously. As we are also good liberals, Al Franken has always been one of our heroes. So, when I heard Al Franken would be cruising through town on a book tour many years back, I decided to go and get a book signed for myself and my mother. The bookstore had a very strict policy about only allowing one book signed per person. So, I recruited my good buddy Greg to get a book signed for my mother. I neglected one small detail in this scheme. I did not tell Greg how to pronounce my mother's name. This will be important later.
When we arrived at the book signing, we were given a post-it note and asked to right out the name we wanted for the inscription in order to save time. You were then asked to place the post-it note on the title page and queue up in an orderly fashion. Greg and I were the last ones in line. The ever-charming Mr. Franken was signing the book in a different way for men and women. I think my copy says "fondly." After my book had been signed, I dutifully stepped forward and made way for Greg.
Mr. Franken looked at the unusual name written on the post-it and asked Greg if the book was for him. Greg said yes. Franken said that it was an unusual name. Greg improvised and said that it was Finnish. (it's not) Franken then asked how to pronounce it. Greg looked panicked for a moment and then let out a barbaric yawp that sounded like "Zhean-yah!" As a little spittle from Greg's mouth hit Mr. Franken's shocked face, I sidled to the door before security could be called.
I believe that to this day, Al Franken has not done another book signing in Denver.