Call me Dave

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There are a few people left in the world who still call me Dave.

I didn’t realise how important that was to me until I was delivering a wedding ceremony a few weeks ago for the beautiful daughter of one of my oldest friends.  There was a hard core of people attending who have known me for 40 and 50 years, and I realised they were all calling me Dave.  It felt, well, comfortable.

In the early eighties, by some kind of osmosis that I didn’t notice at the time, I became “David”. Maybe people thought you couldn’t be a real lawyer with a name like Dave.  The full version stuck; even had my middle name plugged into it for differentiation from the other 6 or 7 David Whites on the solicitors’ roll. It became self-perpetuating.

These days, it feels like no-one calls me Dave any more, except:

  • My siblings – we have our own family nomenclature and no-one’s name in that system has more that one syllable
  • My grandchildren, because thankfully you get to specify what they call you and I sure as hell didn’t want to be Pops or Grandpa
  • People from what I must sadly classify as “the old days” – the gang I went to school with and university with; got into youthful strife with; went surfing with; learned the hard early lessons in life with.

It was members from that last category with whom I spent such a great night at the wedding.  “Dave” slipped easily from everyone’s lips.  I was introduced as “Dave” even to people whom I hadn’t met before.

What felt good about it was that these were mostly people who first knew me when I was nothing much – just a geeky kid who might have had some prospects, but otherwise another one of the teenagers growing up in the 60’s with a long road in front of them.  They all accepted me then, and and they apparently accept me now – in spite of, or not caring about, my subsequent achievements or transgressions.

I have my own versions of who I call myself.  “Davo” is the one I address when I need to give myself a serious talking-to.  “Davaux” was a mysterious self-referencing character who emerged in my journal at one stage of exploration.

At the wedding, “Dave” felt to me like acceptance of who I am, notwithstanding what I might have done.  For me, it’s the people who’ve known you before you made your way in the world who can best give you that feeling.

So next time you see me, maybe you could humour me, and call me Dave.

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