He introduced himself to me on the phone as “Dave.”
But, I soon found out all his friends called him “Georgia.”
He had lost his Southern accent by the time I met him three-and-a-half years after he arrived on that Michigan State campus.
A natural ear for languages and years of singing let him drop his Southern drawl in favor of broadcast English, the non-accented English heard in the Midwest.
But, his friends and fraternity brothers kept the reminder of his accent in his nickname.
Indeed, when one of his fraternity brothers urged him to call me, he told him, “She has a slight Southern accent.”
I was already losing my Texas accent after a year-and-a-half, but it came back in that first phone conversation when I learned he was from Georgia.
I knew I would never call him “Georgia” because I would never call him that in front of his mother.
Why I didn’t understand that this meant I was already thinking love and marriage is still a mystery.
For awhile, I called him Dave because that is how he introduced himself to me and others.
Later, I asked him why he picked the name Dave when all his life his entire family had always called him David. He said that was a common short form in the Midwest, so he adopted it.
I could not reconcile the names.
I wouldn’t call him Georgia, but no one in our circle called him Dave and he seemed to have grown out of the name David that his mother and father, sisters, aunts, cousins and family friends all still called him.
Eventually, he started complaining that I didn’t ever call him by name.
It’s almost true. In intimate situations, I call him “Da-veed,” a nod to the fact that he is fluent in Spanish.
But, usually, it’s Dear.
Powerful. Intimate. Cherished.
It is a name whose meaning is encapsulated in the 1972 Carol Burnett and Walter Matthau movie, “Pete ‘n’ Tillie,” in which a couple loses their son, tragically, to a fatal disease when he is nine.
The most honest moment in the movie is when they are at a party, the husband is flirting with some woman, as is his habit, even has her sitting on his lap, and his wife walks into the room, no longer able to cope with parents bragging about their children.
“Dear, I want to go home.”
He stands up, dumping the woman on the floor, and takes his wife home.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear.
If you want to snuggle up with your sweetie to watch a sad, funny, with happy ending Carol Burnette and Walter Matthau movie, order it from amazon by clicking on the title, “Pete ‘n’ Tillie.”
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru