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This Identity Theft I Can Live With

This week in reader e-mail brings a note from a 46-year-old man in Rockland County, N.Y., a director in a private company that outsources invoicing for telecommunications companies and newspapers. It turns out that he and I have something in common. Here is a tale of identity theft I am happy to report:

Hello Stephen,

My name is Steven Dubner. I am writing you because a funny incident occurred recently that you may get a kick out of … or not!

First, I must be honest and say that I have not yet read any of your books. I certainly have known of you for some time. I was recently attending a surprise party in Staten Island for my uncle. There were many of my father’s aunts and uncles there that I had not seen in some time.

As I went around kissing everyone (like it or not), my 79-year-old aunt grabbed me and exclaimed, “Steve, I just want you to know how much I loved your book Turbulent Souls. I never knew you were an author and such a good one at that. With that, she proceeded to take out the book from a bag and asked me to autograph it for her. Which I did … and I wrote, “From your loving nephew, who never wrote anything outside of corporate proposals and memos. So glad you enjoyed, Steven C. Dubner.”

My father, who witnessed this, was laughing so hard that I could not contain myself. Still, my aunt (never once looking at what I wrote), kissed me and thanked me. To this day, I don’t believe she is any the wiser.

Best Regards,

P.S. a) I do intend to start reading that same book, and b) not to worry, I never autographed another of your books again. If you
knew my aunt, you’d know why I had to do it at that time.

This is at least the third Steven Dubner I am aware of. There’s a lawyer in Texas and a very well-regarded landscaper in Long Island, whom I once had the pleasure to meet — a warm and great guy. I must say, I enjoy having a name that’s distinctive enough but not too much so. It might be a little harder to be named something like Steven Levitt.

The fact is that any overlaps for either of us will decrease as time goes on, since both the “Steven” and “Stephen” spellings of the name peaked decades ago (“Steven” at No. 11, “Stephen” at No. 20) and have been plummeting ever since. Just go to Baby Name Wizard and type them in for yourself — and then be prepared to spend the next several hours typing in other names in this wonderful and wildly addictive little app.