Name Calling: When the Writing Ignited

The group of men I was hanging with at the time was encouraged to ask God a question.   From there the stories dribbled out over the next days and weeks as God answered the question:  What is your nickname for me God?

I was afraid to ask.  The last nickname attached to me was cry baby.  I cried every time it hung on my ears like a peer fulfilling prophecy.  The reason behind asking was that “Our Father who is in heaven” desires to bestow a blessing on his sons with a term of endearment.   Well, that was a hard swallow only because “my father who was on earth” rarely said boo to me. Why would the Father beyond the “by and by” take time out of eternity to speak to me?

The men started sharing the answer to the destiny packed question.  Names like William Wallace and Maximus and Rocky Balboa started dropping from the sky and landing like testosterone helmets.  I began seeing middle aged men sniffing like Barney Fife and tucking in their shirts.  They didn’t care what hung over their belts, which made me even more hesitant to pop the question to Pops.

That direct of a question was like asking the President if I could borrow a dollar.  What if the answer was a non answer, crickets rubbing their legs together in the void as it were? What if Abba said to me,”Give me a minute, nothing’s coming to mind at the moment, and can I get back to you?”  My low expectations would have been met if such an answer whispered to me through the pines.

Well, I did finally ask.  I was stepping into my car and it came out of my mouth like a burp.  “Do you have a name for me?”

“John-boy”

I shut the door, turned the key, and fastened my seat belt.  The car idled in beat with my thoughts.  Nah.  Seriously?  Not Spidey?  Not Clark Kent?  Not Captain Kirk? Not even Mighty Mouse?  I pulled away, leaving those thoughts in the handicapped spot.

It was a while before I returned to this “answer”.  I had looked several times in the mirror for a mole and round reading lenses.  There was a temptation to ask again to see if Abba might have an additional name like when I was confirmed in second grade.  James was my confirmation name chosen by my parents.  Maybe God was catholic and I was not yet confirmed by him.   The name Gerald Allen James John-boy Barrett sounded a little “under” the top instead of over it.  I think what wrinkled my brain was the “boy” part.  It had associations.  Like a black slave being called “boy”.  Like in the movie The Man From Snowy River when Jim Craig brought the herd of wild horses into the fold single handedly.   Hence, the last line of the film…”He’s a man.  The man from Snowy River.”   A coming of age story doesn’t end with a baritone voice squeaking into a soprano.

My mother raised me and I was outnumbered by six sisters.  Hen pecked was my appropriate tag line.  I can show you the pock marks on my ego.  “My name is Jerry, and I’m a momma’s boy.”  It’s a good attribute in my estimation and does aid in my understanding of “Venus’s.”  But I was longing for an add-on.  I was hoping for a hormonal hinge from which to swing.  In high school I played football hoping that jocks and their straps would make a strapping young man out of me.  I didn’t even like to hit which reduced me to bench sitting, one butt cheek away from “water-boy.”

Well, I kept hanging around these men for a while.  I saw some good changes in the diary-of-a-wimpy-church-male screen play of which I was type cast.  They ordered swords to hang above their mantles.  They draped golden gloves over the roll bar in their Jeep Wranglers.  They grunted to one another and fist pounded and chest bumped at man-cave-like meetings.  They wore their nick-names like leather Harley-Davidson jackets.  They found their pubescent rebirth of sorts, together, while “John-boy” sat and observed it all…  He did? He did! I did!

Honestly, the realization didn’t pound me quite like an exclamation point.  It was more like Morse code; dot dot dash dot dash over all long period of dot dot dot.  I looked over my shoulder to find evidence lying like bread crumbs.  It was a trail that led back to a large family on the dead end of Grand Avenue.  2020 Grand Avenue.  20/20 vision focused when I set my reading glasses down and closed my eyes.  I grew up in a family only to grow out of it.  Oh, I was still in the family yet as calendars filled the recycling bin I found myself standing outside of it more and more with pen in hand.  Little vignettes and poems began showing up for special occasions.

See that picture on the side up there? Draw a mole on that face.

Comments

  1. What a great question to ask God! I shall try that one 🙂

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