Friday, December 31, 2010

Just call me Steve

My first name is Terry, but I’m often called Gary, Barry, Larry or, when I was a kid by mean (possibly homophobic) classmates, Mary or Fairy.
Persons of authority, teachers, or anyone with dyslexic tendencies sometimes use my last name as a first name. The variety of ways in which people screw up the name ‘Stephan’ (stef-an) as a first name is amazing. Usually it is shortened to the familiar ‘Steve’, or ‘Steven’, sometimes it has even been pronounced ‘Stif-fon’.
Before I married Emmy, she was dating a young man named Jerry. He served in the Navy, as did Emmy’s father, Fred who spent WWII in the Navy.
Fred had six women in his life, his wife and five un-married daughters. He probably saw Jerry as a good prospect, as not only a future son-in-law but also an ally and comrade-in-arms for a man with so many females in his life.
Then I came along, no military involvement; Navy or otherwise-and my hair was too long.
I don’t think it was a slip of the tongue when Fred called me ‘Jerry’ every so often for the first decade or two of my marriage to his daughter.
Mispronouncing or purposefully using the wrong name never bothered me. I have always felt there are too many serious wrongs in the world to worry about small stuff like that. When I was a kid, I heard the adage, ‘call me anything, but don’t call me late for dinner’. I like the phrase, and the large waist of my pants shows that I have gone overboard in adhering to its fundamental message.
I’m not offended when people call me Gary, but I am perturbed if I miss a meal.
Because I care little about people using my correct name, I tend to play fast and loose with friends, political leaders or even names for whole sections of the populace.
My cousin, who is my age, went by ‘Becky’ or her given name ‘Rebecca’ for forty years. Then she changed it to ‘Becca’. Becca is a fine name but she gets upset when I call her Becky.
I think altering her name at the age of forty falls under the category of changing the rules in the middle of a game. This is similar to how the shifting sands of political correctness have changed over the past thirty years.
Somewhere back there in the 70’s or 80’s there began real debate about PC. I was all for it at the time because it looked as though we were going to simplify things. It became politically correct to call a “person of color” simply, “Black”.
My uncle was “visually impaired”. He is gone now but he single handedly ran a small business his entire adult life. A realist, he would have scoffed at someone calling him anything other than ‘blind’, a word considered offensive by some these days.
This brings me to our departing governor. I knew little about David Patterson when he was Elliot Spitzer’s sidekick but after a few public appearances, he seemed to be a man of substance. At least he was humorous, eloquent, and gave a good speech.
Shortly into his term, we discovered he was sexually overactive, outside of marriage. This only complicates his PC title a bit more.
He became our “African American, Visually Impaired, Oversexed, and Fidelity Disadvantaged Person with Governorship Responsibilities”.
If this is the wrong title, I apologize and hope to find someone with a Master’s degree in Political Science or Geography or Genealogy or maybe all three to straighten it out.
I suppose we could just call him ‘the recent Governor’.
Call me Ishmael if you like, just don’t call me late for supper..


Karen Siddiqi said...

I get Kathy, Kristin and Katie so much more often than my real name - Karen. Is it THAT hard? But yes, if I'm well-fed, I really don't care what you call me :)

Pat said...

Well said my friend. I'm glad that I was able to reconnect. I miss reading your columns. I too make sure that I don't miss dinner. Keep up the great work. I look forward to the next column