The Old Coot has a new name

The Old Coot has a new name

Just call me Vern. For years I’ve called people by the wrong name. Introduced to a Lynn, I immediately start calling her Lisa. Greg becomes Craig. Tom becomes Tim (so does Robert, for some odd reason). Paul and Phil (twins, by the way) become switched to Phil and Paul. 

I’ve butchered introductions for years – even when trying all the tricks: repeating the person’s name right away and using it in a sentence, like, “Where are you from, Greg?” Another few seconds pass and he becomes Craig. Or worse, I lose his name completely and desperately whisper to my wife as we walk away, “What was that guy’s name?”

I’m not alone. I’m Norm to some people. My mother had the same issue, sometimes calling me Norm, her brother’s name. So did my next-door neighbor. I’m Merrill, Merl and worst of all, Marilyn. 

It started early.  My fourth grade teacher set me up on the girl’s side of the room on her seating chart (Yes, they kept us apart in those days. Smartly, I might add). She’d made up the chart before school started in September, and then was mad at me because she had to redo the seating assignments; she got even by calling me Marylin throughout the entire school year, something that carried over to the playground, much to my chagrin.

I’m also called Coot (which I like), Jim Steele, my “go-to” name when I want to be incognito, like in Starbucks or other places that ask your name, so they can call it out when your order is ready. I often use it when I violate some bureaucratic rule and am asked my name. I once used it to sign an electrician inspection, indicating that the work was performed by an electrician, Jim Steele from Elmira. What the heck; I did the wiring and inspected it as I went along. I’m called by a several other descriptive monikers – old fogie, idiot and the like.

Now I’ve picked up a new one, “Vern!” I was christened this by Ed from Lisle Road, who routinely mentions to Jen, “I saw Vern walking up Davis Hill today.” I like it! I’m adding it to my favorites, Coot, Jim Steele and now, Vern. What’s in a name? I sure don’t know. Just call me Vern.

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