I am terrible at the “letter-as-in-word” construction one employs when spelling something over the phone. I’m already terrible at the phone, in general, psyching myself up to call ConEd in the same way a sixth grade girl might star-sixty-seven then hang up on her crush, but it’s the spelling that really gets me. See, I’ve a last name with strings of easily-transposable consonants and one place where nearly everybody inexplicably inserts an “R”. I’ve gotten mail addressed to Miss Cooterman for fuck’s sake. So I try to be dutiful in clarifying the letters as I reel them off, but every time I have to come up with a word that starts with that letter, my mind goes entirely blank. I can’t figure out a single word that starts with M. I sit there, phone clutched to my cheek in a mute panic, my brain desperately throwing me some completely fucking absurd possibilities: “M as in mongoloid,” “N as in nycthemeral,” “T as in tarsier.” And the person on the other end of the line is waiting, maybe tapping their fingers impatiently on their keys, and a fine sweat is breaking out on my lip and finally, finally, with a relief that feels as tangible as a sneeze I near-yell “MONKEY. M as in monkey.” and we can move on to the next part of the form, the next blank space where yet another letter lurks, waiting to trip me up.