Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Prefer Barry

Hello, my name is Brady.

No, it's not guy.

Nor is my name Dude, although I have a tee shirt that says so.

My name is simply Brady.

But Every once in awhile, somebody gets it wrong. That happened to me the other day, and it triggered an unfortunate memory and subsequent venting about That Guy Who Called Everybody Guy.

Don't fret. We're not going back there again today.

The other day, a colleague called me by the wrong name. He called me Barry. Twice, actually. This colleague travels frequently and is rarely in the office. Having returned from a long absence, he needed some assistance installing a printer to his new laptop. So while I was downloading the driver, we passed the time with the small chit-chat that normally occupies office space. He remembered that I was a cyclist and a swimmer. We talked about our families a little. Then, after successfully printing a test page, he thanked me for getting him hooked up. That's when he called me Barry.

I gave him the benefit of doubt. Perhaps the chatter of the printer made me mishear what he said. But then as we were walking out, he praised me again -- this time distinctly as Barry -- for my efforts.

It was okay. It wasn't the first time I've been called Barry.

Over the years, I've been called a lot of names besides Brady. The most common has been Brad. I hate being called Brad, but not nearly as much as I hate being called guy -- whoops, there's that guy word slipping in again. --  I'm surprised at how much I dislike being called Brad. It's a mystery because I have friends named Brad. I suppose it's because of the context. I'm usually called Brad by a bank teller or someone trying to sell me something. Uh sorry, but Brad's not going to be buying any Florida swamp land from you.

Besides Barry and Brad, I've also been called Grady, Bradley, Brandy, Braddy, and even Bob once. Bob? Here's how that one went:

Me: Hi, my name is Brady.

Them: Nice to meet you, Bob.

Me: Um, you too, guy.

Anyway, about this Barry thing. The first person to call me Barry was Mr. Conway, my high school religion teacher.

Mr Conway was an icon at St. Louis University High School. By the time I sat in his freshman theology class, Mr Conway had served in various roles in the school administration and taught nearly every subject. He had a wealth of experience and was an excellent teacher. The finer details, like remembering the name of another know-it-all-snot-nosed punk sitting in the second row, just wasn't that important to Mr Conway anymore. He just called it the way he saw it.

I can still picture him sitting behind that big old oak desk, his bright, wide eyes staring at me through his Mr Magoo-like glasses, while asking me something like, "How old did the Bible say Methuselah was, Barry?"

I had corrected him a couple times early in the semester. He'd call me by my proper name for a few weeks before being drawn back towards his old standby, Barry. So by the time we were through the Pentateuch, my new name, Barry, was firmly rooted. I/we all kind of got used to it. It was fine.

It was that way until late in the semester. We were studying the minor prophets, when classmate Leonard Shelton broke the silence. He just couldn't take it anymore.

Mr Conway: ...Popular belief is that the Bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. But did the Bible really mention anything about a whale? What does the Bible say, Barry?

Barry/Me: The Bibl --


Mr. Conway: Because he looks like Barry Manilow.

The classroom roared with laughter. Mr Conway lets everyone continue for a moment before raising his hand to silence the class

Mr. Conway: So what were you about to say, BARRY? Was there a whale?

Barry/Me: ... no, Mr Conway.The Bible never mentions anything about a whale, it just says a large fish swallowed Jonah.

Mr. Conway: Thank you, Barry. Now Leonard, come put your demerit card on the corner of my desk...


From way back then until till now, many years have passed since I've been called Barry. I still don't mind that one.

This much's for sure: being called Barry is much preferred over being called guy by the guy who called everybody guy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't Be That Guy Who Calls Everybody Guy

Years ago, I met a person who called everybody 'guy'. His name was Vinnie, but for all intents and purposes for the remainder of the post, I shall refer to him as 'That Guy Who Calls Everybody 'Guy,'' or TGWCEG, for short.

Now some of you may guess where this is going. Yeah, yeah, so Brady knew a guy who called everybody guy. Big deal. Who hasn't met someone like that? But I'm telling you, TGWCEG was something special. Let me explain.

I was a college freshman when I met TGWCEG. He was a classmate who also lived on the same floor of the dorm I lived in. TGWCEG was immediately one of the most popular kids in the school.

He was also the most hated.

I came to find out in short order that it didn't matter if you were an acquaintance who and hadn't seen him in years, or if you just met him for the first time. Regardless of the circumstance, he'd slip you a cold fish for a handshake and say, 'how's it going, guy?'


Yes, it was amazing. TGWCEG would walk down the campus and greet everybody that way. It didn't matter of you were male or female. 'Guy' was that -- uh -- guy's go-to word for all people in all occasions.

Like this:
To me, upon our first meeting: How's it going, guy?
To a former girlfriend, on her first meeting: How's it going, guy?
To the tenured professor, right before midterms: How's it going, guy?
To the University's President, at commencement: How's it going, guy?...

TGWCEG was incredible. I mean, the kid was either extremely confident or simply stupid. I never bothered to find out because he grated on my nerves so much.

He grated on everybody's nerves.

Imagine being his roommate. TGWCEG's first dorm roommate only lasted a couple weeks before dropping out of school.

His second roommate lasted a little longer. Once, when TGWCEG was away for the weekend, roommate #2 had a few of us over for pizza. He needed to vent. While we ate and listened, roommate #2 nearly broke down and cried while talking about the living arrangement. Later, when we thanked him for the food, roommate #2 confessed that the pizza was paid for by taking TGWCEG's chemistry book and selling it back to the bookstore earlier that day.

Unfortunately, roommate #2 didn't make it to the end of the semester either. After that, TGWCEG had a private room.

Anyway, something triggered a memory of the guy who called everybody guy, today. I feel better now having expressed this. Thank you for allowing me the space to vent. Whew! That was needed.

So what have we learned here today? Unless you want your possessions sold for someone elses' pizza, don't be that guy who calls everybody guy.