, Indiana, circa 1996, Beef-n-Boards Dinner Theatre
Two good friends and I were on a field trip with the Washington High School drama club, taking in a production of the musical Brigadoon. During the intermission one guy at our table--known to us as Gator--struck up a conversation with some junior-high-school-age girls at a table on the tier above ours. All were from the same school, from somewhere in the central Indiana cornfields, and had simple names like "Julie Hicks" and very little wordly experience. When they asked the rest of us our names, they had no conception of our hometown of South Bend, IN, or the largely Polish heritage of that city's west side. We rattled off names to the girls' complete awe and disbelief: Sniadecki (Sny-deck-ee), Pianstki (Pee-ans-kee), Dabrowiak (Duh-bro-ee-ak). They thought we were lying! So we continued with some of the more colorful names in our repetoire, Maslowski, Osowski, Jaworski, Sobieski, Pryzbyz (pronounced Shee-bish). In the end, we had to write some of the names out on the backs of our programs to prove we were serious.
I had never seen anything like it, and apparently neither had they.