I have a Facebook page even though I rarely go to the site. For a whole lot of reasons it irritates me, but sometimes surprises come through it. Yesterday I got a “friend” request from someone I haven’t seen or had contact with for more than 40 years. We knew each other when we were going to a small college in northeastern Missouri. She was married to one of my friends and was matron of honor at my wedding.
I granted the request and then sent her an email so I could add her to my address book. She emailed back with the salutation of “Dick” which is the name she knew me by back then. I can date people I know by what they call me. My family, of course, called me Dick and so did everyone I knew until 1980. That’s when I got the job skippering a large Hatteras motoryacht in New Orleans.
For whatever reasons the owners of the boat didn’t like the moniker “Dick” so I became “Captain Richard” and have been known as Richard ever since.
In the mid 1990s a friend and I ran a yacht repair business in Fort Lauderdale and did the repair work for the country’s largest boat repossession company. People coming to check out the repo inventory often wanted to borrow tools, and, of course, we couldn’t allow them to wander off with what we needed to do our jobs so we assembled a 5 gallon bucket in which we placed worn out and discarded tools. Anyone was welcome to use them.
There was one particular repo client who, because he bought so many of the boats, thought that he stood in a somewhat exalted status and would come in and borrow stuff from our personal tool boxes. His name was Dick. In spite of repeatedly telling him to keep out of our personal gear he constantly ignored our admonitions.
One day I caught him trying to walk off with one of our good tools and I told him to put it back and that he was no longer allowed to even enter our shop ever again. Our exchange became rather heated and his wife, who was often with him, said, “Come on, Dick, let’s go.”
“Dick,” I said, “what an appropriate name. You know, I was a Dick to my family. I was a Dick all through high school and college. I was a Dick in my early working career, and I was a Dick to nearly everyone I met and I often regret having been such a dick to so many people. Then I became a Richard and it changed me. But YOU, you’ll be a DICK UNTIL THE DAY YOU DIE!”