My obsession with the letter Z started in grade school

Do you have a favorite letter of the alphabet?

This may sound odd to some people, but I do.

You see, I’m a lifelong Z girl. I’ve always loved the letter Z and any word that has a Z in it.

I have a Z in my middle name. For a period of ten years, I had a Z in my last name. And when I had a child of my own, I made sure she had a Z in her first name!

That’s how much I love Zs. But how did this zestful obsession come about? You can thank my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Ritchie, for this particular core memory.

Way back in 1980 or thereabouts, on one of the early days of the school year, Mrs. Ritchie had our class add up the “points” of our first and last names, assigning one point to letter A and 26 points to letter Z. I remember it took us quite a while to add up our names’ points. The student with the highest score “won” the activity.

I fared pretty well, having a Y in my last name – but alas, a student with a Z name won. I begged to use middle names too, as I had a Z advantage there. Unfortunately for me, Mrs. Ritchie decided that since not everyone has a middle name, that wouldn’t be fair.

Oh, how badly I wanted to win that day! I became completely fixated on the letter Z because it had such a high points value. Even though I had a Y, it wasn’t enough. The two As in my first name really set me back. Why couldn’t I have been Zara instead?!

And that’s how it began – my lifelong obsession with Zs. It’s not something I can control and often I don’t even realize I’m being swayed by my love of Zs.

For example, one of my favorite travel memories is walking the charming streets of Zihuatanejo (a beachside town made famous by Shawshank Redemption). Was it really that quaint and lovely, or did I just fall for the name?

I love the gem tanzanite (a form of zoisite which, to be honest, I like even better). Am I drawn to it because of its gorgeous blue-purple hue – a high likelihood, since “blurple” is one of my favorite colors? Possibly – but it could also be because of the Z in the name.

One of my favorite genres of horror films is zombie movies. Is it because I find the undead particularly endearing and likable, or is it because of the Z in the name?

I love Pez candy and have since childhood. Is it because of the great flavors and fun dispensers, or because of the… you guessed it… letter Z in the name?

My first marriage was to someone with a Z in his last name. Is the Z what swayed me to make that fateful choice?!

On road trips, I’ll beg E to take us miles out of our way if I notice a town with a Z name on the map. Imagine my joy when we once stopped at Zzyzx Road for gas while driving between LA and Las Vegas. I nearly lost my mind with excitement. And yes, I managed to buy a Zzyzx postcard!

Ray of Light” is one of my favorite Madonna songs. Is it because, like so many Madonna songs, it’s utterly awesome? Or could it have something to do with the lyric “Zephyr in the sky at night, I wonder…”

The list goes on. I am always finding Zs in my life in unexpected and amazing ways. Of course, giving our daughter a Z name and literally nicknaming her “Z” definitely helped with this. But sometimes the Zs come out of nowhere, too.

What can I say? It’s easy for me to find my zen. I just take a trip to the zoo, visit a zebra or two, order pizza for dinner and I’m there.

Even the pandemic didn’t bother me too much. You know – because of all the Zoom calls.

I can’t be the only one with a favorite letter. Do you have a zany word obsession like my zeal for Zs? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or over on Facebook or Instagram.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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