The Wide Angle: The dog’s name was Barney, not mine

Published 10:54 am Sunday, December 17, 2017

I was in Sweet Reads the other night and during the time I was there Lisa Deyo called me Jason — twice.

I’m not doing this to call out Lisa for any malicious reason or embarrass her, though if you know Lisa, I’m not entirely sure she can be embarrassed. She is a delightful woman, with a merriment and joy about life that few can match.

So, eventually I picked the name Mary to refer to her by and I have no doubt that between the two of us we will continue this newly found tradition throughout the years.

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And it’s not like I haven’t been called the wrong name before. My mom once called me Barney — though I believe she will still debate this as she has on those few occasions when I’ve brought it up, eyeing me with no small amount of skepticism.

Again, I don’t bring this up to make fun of my mom. I love her very much and is one of the top three humans in my life and the household containing a vibrant child with a healthy imagination and two extremely excitable labs can be a bit daunting.

Yes, my mom called me by one of the dog’s names — Barney. But at least it was the smarter of the two dogs so there is that win.

My grandpa, my dad’s dad, was terrible with my name, running through just about every male’s name in our family before finally arriving on mine. I didn’t mind it, because we don’t have that many people in my family. Sooner or later he was going to get to me. On those occasions I would just wait until he went through David, Rick — me. I don’t remember if he ever used his brother’s names before getting to me, though it wouldn’t surprise me much if he did.

I have my own problems with names which should come across as no surprise. In my profession I come across a lot of people. Between people who have become long-term connections and those in passing I really don’t doubt I’ve come across hundreds of people. Not high hundreds mind you. I’m not that popular.

That’s a lot of faces and names to try to rattle around in a mind that’s already clogged with those same things that distracted me as a boy.

I obviously don’t remember everybody’s names, but for the most part I can remember the people — their faces, where we met, why we met, that sort of thing.

Case in point. When I was in Huron, South Dakota I met a ton of great people both in Huron and from the surrounding area. Of those, I remember a lot of people including a little boy of about five, maybe six or seven, that during basketball games would come sit with me under the basket as I photographed the game. I don’t remember how this came to be or his name, but I remember each and EVERY time I would have a partner for the half I was there.

Then there was, volleyball player from Huron High School who was just a blast to be around. That kid told me a joke once — not fit to reprint though I remember it — that by the time she was done had me at the center of one great big prank. I remember her name as if we last talked yesterday.

I remember the owner and managers of Manolis Grocery who made the best sandwiches I’ve ever had to this date and were two of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met.

I remember the Hutterite who hosted a pheasant hunting party on his land north of Mitchell. A jovial man with an infectious and deep laugh who would not let us go hunting until we had small sample of his homemade wine and a hamburger, finding out later that you didn’t really get to use his land until you’ve sat around the table for a shared meal.

I don’t remember his name, but I can see his face and the wide smile underneath the beard.

So what’s in a name? Often times a memory, a laugh, but not always the name. Does that make sense?

In most ways, the name itself often times binds the person to the memory you have of them, but not always. Sometimes the memory is stronger than the name because maybe that person wasn’t in your life nearly as long as maybe you had hoped for.

I didn’t see that little boy much after the activities director of the school said he couldn’t sit with me anymore because it was dangerous. Villain. He saw me here and there and would wave, but after awhile he just stepped out of my life.

I don’t remember the Hutterite’s name because I only talked with him once.

I remember the volleyball player still because for seven years she was part of a lot of the sports I covered and in essence Huron, even though it was a town comparable to Austin, was still rural. The heart of South Dakota is always rural.

She was a friendly girl that was easy to small talk with and was part of a family who carried on those same values. One of the nicest families I’ve ever come to know.

Case in point: I remember the names of the starting six of the volleyball team she was part of — though not a starter at that time — because they were the first team in my career that gave me back-to-back state titles to cover.

The first year they defeated the favorite, Sioux Falls Washington, after coming back through the losers bracket.

Yeah, South Dakota in those days had a wickedly hard tournament format. You could lose your first match, but still battle back through the losers bracket and let me tell you, volleyball in South Dakota was good in those days. Very good. In our area aloneone year I had three teams from our area to cover.

That was a fun time. Remind me to tell you that story some time.

All of those memories based on the names of those people involved that I worked closely with. I had an especially close connection with the head coach and her family because she graduated from Jackson, Minnesota, not far from where I grew up.

So again, what’s in a name? Sometimes not so much as you would think. Sometimes when people come up to you and start talking you have to just look at them, smile, point and with all of the conviction in the world say, “Hey … dude … how’s it going?” and hope it doesn’t come out too awkward.

Often, it’s all about a memory so if Lisa Deyo wants to call me Jason then you know what? I’m good with it because in the end I will remember that we laughed — a lot.

And there really is not enough laughter in the world these days.