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Alpha and the omega: From first to last, Aaberg, Zwetzig bookend new phone directory

The good book says: Many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first. To which Scott Zwetzig might say: Yeah, right. On the other hand, being at the front of the alphabet isn't all hearts and flowers either, according to Beth Aaberg....

The good book says: Many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first.

To which Scott Zwetzig might say: Yeah, right.

On the other hand, being at the front of the alphabet isn't all hearts and flowers either, according to Beth Aaberg.

Those two people bookend - sort of - the Fargo-Moorhead residence section of the newest Dex telephone book. Aaberg is listed second, right beneath her uncle, Allen Aaberg, who declined to be interviewed. Zwetzig is the last person listed.

Zwetzig, 36, Fargo, actually has seen some advantages in being on the low end of the alphabetical totem pole.

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For example, a friend of Zwetzig's told him last week that he wasn't just the last person listed in the phone book. Because of the vagaries of typesetting, he's listed alone on page 188.

"It's kind of an honor to have a whole page in the phone book," he says.

Ever the optimist, Zwetzig says there are other advantages to having a name at the end of the alphabet.

"Even when I was in the (National) Guard, I knew where I was at in the line. In school, you always knew where you were at. It was something that was kind of instilled in you."

And just as Zwetzig sees advantages, Aaberg, 23, Fargo, sees disadvantages in coming first.

"I always had to sit at the front of the (school) bus," forcing her to be well-behaved - at least on the bus, she says.

A native of Chaska, Minn., who came here to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead, Aaberg says she also usually graduated first in her class, alphabetically, at least.

Still, she was happy when teachers stopped the alphabetical seating halfway through elementary school. She says she felt "better, like I had a choice."

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North Dakota State University psychology professor Michael Robinson says he isn't aware of any research on how a person's spot in the alphabet affects life.

There's weirder research out there, though. Robinson says studies have found that people whose initials spell out something uncomplimentary, like P.I.G., are likely to die five years earlier than people who don't. Another study found people are statistically more likely to move to states that start with the same letter as their first name.

Probably the biggest problem Aaberg faces is putting up with people constantly asking if she's first for everything.

Her answer? "Usually."

That won't be true much longer, though. In June, she'll marry Robert Huebner, ending her days of alphabetical primacy.

Zwetzig says as he gets older, he finds himself in fewer and fewer alphabetical situations. And "it's always easy to tell somebody if they wanted our phone number or wanted to get ahold of us, we're the last ones in the phone book."

And this time, they're the only ones on the page.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

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Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541

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