Call Me Jerry

While taking roll on the first day of kindergarten, my teacher asked each of us students, in turn, if we’d prefer to use a name other than the one she’d just read. As expected, most Roberts said they’d like to go by Bob, some Rebeccas opted for either Becca or Becky, and all Richards sensibly stuck with Richard.

I chose Jerry.

My name is clearly not Jerry. Nor is it Jerome or Jerimiah or Jerred or Jerald or any other sensible derivation of the word. I really don’t remember why I picked it. To be fair, though, I really don’t remember much of anything from that era. In fact, I only learned about this particular morsel after stumbling across an old box of keepsakes at my parents’ house.

“Who the hell’s Jerry?” I’d asked, holding up a piece of shoddily colored artwork.

“He’s you,” my mother answered.

The conversation continued, at length, from there, but we were only able to ascertain that 1) I knew my real name before heading off to school that day, 2) I’d never been hit by a falling anvil or anything else significant enough to cause this sort of brain damage, and 3) I wasn’t running from the law back then. Instead, based on my current behavioral patterns, we both guessed I simply wasn’t paying attention, panicked when my teacher asked for a name, and then blurted out the first one I could think of that wasn’t Richard.

Regardless, for the rest of that year, I introduced myself as Jerry, signed all my papers as Jerry, and wouldn’t respond to anything aside from Jerry. Even at home. But here’s the craziest part: my sister and parents simply rolled with it. They never took me to a doctor or put me on medication or made me see an exorcist or anything like that. They simply embraced me in love and hoped I’d eventually become a little less weird.

And I did.


Now I’m paranoid that all this might just be another phase and someday I’m going to wake up and wonder who the hell Tracy is and why I own so much of his shoddy artwork.

Originally posted on Medium

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