Pete Davison: Say My Name, Bitch

Posted on May 17, 2011 by

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I have something of a — what — phobia? I’m not sure it’s that serious, but I have something of a thing about saying people’s names, for some inexplicable reason. It might be something to do with the fact that I never really liked my own name or the way my voice pronounced it when I was a kid (hence my habitual shortening of it to “Pete” everywhere in the world these days) or it might just be one of my many strange and inexplicable neuroses.

I can’t even pin down why I sometimes find it difficult to say the name of the person who is standing right in front of me and who, in most cases, I know quite well. Perhaps I worry I’ll mispronounce it (granted, it’s kind of hard to mispronounce most of the names of people I know, though I have no idea how to say the surnames “Ohle” or “Honea” to this day and worry if I ever meet the people in question face to face I’ll pick the wrong possibility and make a big tit of myself) or perhaps I just think that someone’s name is somehow a window on their soul, a piece of their person that is, well, personal.

I don’t mind people calling me by name, though, that’s the weird thing. And I’m aware it’s silly to feel odd about saying other people’s names — particularly if you’re calling out for someone. “Hey! You!” really doesn’t cut it in a room full of people — although to be honest, I’ve never really been one for calling out anyway, as I generally much prefer to just go over to the person in question and speak to them, as yelling just draws attention to 1) you and 2) the person you’re yelling at, who may not be grateful for the attention.

Of course, it’s easy to go the other way and start calling people by their name far too much. Then it gets a bit weird, people start raising their eyebrows and wondering why you’re “acting suspiciously”. Saying someone’s name too much is often seen as a sign of guilt, like you’re trying to avoid accidentally referring to the person as someone else, like an ex, or a hilariously deformed person you saw on TV that you can’t get out of your head while you look at your friend, however awful a person that makes you.

Maybe it, like so many socialisation things, is something you just need to practice a bit. It is, after all, one of the things about “growing up” — the moment when you stop calling adults “Steven’s mum” or “Mrs. Stevenson” and start calling them “Geoff”. (Steven’s mum’s parents didn’t like her much.) Perhaps there’s still some sort of residual hang-up in my mind about that, like so many things.

Ah well. One more to add to the list.

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Posted in: Pete Davison