Do you suffer from the “Curse of the Common Name” or are you one of those blessed with a truly unique name that identifies you before anyone actually meets you?
I’ve always hated the name “David” because it was so common.
I much preferred “Keith” growing up but I never had the gumption to insist others actually refer to me by that name.
My father wanted to call me “Rocky” but my mother demanded the ordinary safe “David” harbor to the extraordinary rough shore. I’m not thrilled with the idea I was almost a Rocky, but anything is better than the “beloved” David.
Most people my age cursed with “David” cringe when we hear our name spoken aloud because sometimes five people in a crowded room will turn their head when hearing “David!” yelled from afar.
I stopped answering to David and now only respond when people use my last name or my full name. “Boles!” or even “David Boles!” is better than plain “David” — or “Dave” as my Nebraska friends used to call me — or “Davey” as my grandfather fondly called me. “Davey” is slightly more tolerable than “Dave” but 100% better than “David.”
Everyone on the East Coast calls me “David” by default while Midwesterners always default to “Dave” even if they’re meeting me for the first time. I am still waiting for the day when I’m brave enough to say, “Hi, my name is ‘David Boles’ but please call me ‘Keith’ instead.” My full name — “David Boles” — isn’t much of a help in creating individual significance because there are so many of us.
I used to be awakened in the middle of the night with phone calls asking me the price of gold in London. I later discovered a “David Boles” worked at a major investment bank in New York City. I was in the Manhattan phone book. He was not. I removed my name from the phone book after learning five other “David Boles” people all lived within a five mile radius of me… umm… “us”… or would that be “we?” In order to add a little bit of personalization to my name, I decided to add the “W.” in official public matters to try to find a modicum of specialness in the virtual world. The Internets has been awful for aiding certain identification because every day more “David Boles” folk show up and that just messes up the name pool something awful.
The fact I was born “David Isherwood” and not “David Boles” complicates the whole matter even more. “Boles” is no longer a person — it now resounds in me only as a Brand. I thought about becoming Isherwood again about 15 years ago, but all my friends and bosses and associates said, “No, don’t do it! ‘David Boles’ sounds like a famous name!” My wife also said, “I married ‘Boles’ not ‘Isherwood’.” Did I tell you she kept her maiden name? And so here we are. Just call me “Keith.”