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Call Me Debbie

Several years ago, my family attended a church that worshipped in a big reception hall. Our pews were metal folding chairs so the background noise could be distracting. If you were older and hard of hearing it could be very confusing as well.

This background info brings me around to Bob. Bob was an old local cowboy and he was a favorite of mine. He wore denim bib overalls with his cowboy hat and reminded me of my late grandpa so I doted on Bob, helping him fill his plate at fellowship meals and the like.

A few of the ladies that went to that church doted on Bob, including a gal named Debbie.

Debbie and I both wear glasses and our hairstyles are similar. Where Debbie is shorter and petite, I am built to withstand a famine or a week’s long bout with the flu. We both loved Bob though and that was all that mattered.

When Bob first called me Debbie I didn’t hear it because of some minor hearing loss on my part and the scraping of metal chairs on the linoleum floor before church started. By the time I realized that’s what he was calling me several Sundays had passed and it didn’t seem worth the effort to correct him. I worked with his granddaughter around this time, too, so I told her of the mix up and we got a good laugh out of it.

Around lunchtime weeks later I was leaving a local eatery when I saw Bob sitting in a booth with his granddaughter and her dad, who was Bob’s son and knew me by my actual name. Bob was so happy to see me and finally have the opportunity to introduce me to his son and granddaughter. His granddaughter did tell Bob that she and I worked together but the look of sheer confusion on his son’s face at my sudden name change was priceless. 

Bob passed away not too long after that funny encounter but I think of him whenever I see denim bib overalls.

My name has been changed since then too. During my brief stint as a substitute teacher in our local school system, I had one student try to call me something other than Mrs. Theurer. He was known as a bit of a troublemaker, but I didn’t have much problem with him even on the day he said, “What’s it to you, Linda?” I had to ask him who Linda was. “Isn’t that your first name?” he asked, causing one of his classmates to proclaim “Does she look like a Linda?” I don’t know what a Linda looks like and I don’t have an opinion on it either but the whole exchange was quite fascinating. It went on with him trying to guess my first name until another of his classmates started a Wheel of Fortune-style game on the whiteboard to help him narrow down his options.

My actual first name is open to several interpretations but when my parents told my paternal grandmother what my first name was she stated, “That’s fine but just don’t call her Jenny. We had a mule named that when I was growing up.”

You can call me Debbie. You can call me Linda. Just don’t call me Jenny.



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