I came upon this realization today. Well it’s not really so much a realization as it is a theory. Well it’s not maybe so much a theory as it perhaps was an epiphany. ‘Haven’t had one of those since Woodstock. (grin) Most every realization, theory or epiphany that I consider huge happened in those formative high school and collegiate years when my brain was ever-expanding. So you can imagine how happy I was! I actually had a coherent thought today.
And this may be something one might not agree with but this whole, “no man is an island,” concept and the vast de-familiarization that has been occurring with the advent of smart devices sort of makes us all “islands unto ourselves.” No? So that having been said, the realization I’m speaking of may actually be old news to some. Not really a theory either. But an epiphany? Well, for people who are old enough to remember simpler times, perhaps. When there wasn’t 7 billion people living on the planet. Think in terms of rural America, small town and how we address one another.
Yup. That’s it. If you’ll notice most folks don’t use people’s first names anymore. Even after meeting them. If you have occasion to, I’d imagine, in business or intimate social settings using a person’t first name may not feel awkward or disingenuous. “Pete over there looks like he ordered the liver and onions. I’ll have that, too.” In those sorts of situations, it works, usually. But nine times out of ten, we all seemed to have stopped using folk’s first names when speaking directly to them. That’s half of my epiphany.
The other half revolves around surnames or last names. (Beside that point, which I’ll get to in a minute, no one really uses the word, “surname”, anymore. I recently had someone ask me, “What was that word you just used?” And I had to explain, “surname.”) Last names – it seems to me – are strictly used in very specific settings. Locker rooms, police precincts, and certain business or social situations.
“Peterson over there was the first responder.”
“Jablonski’s running the pool this week.”
“Ask Blankenship. He saw the whole thing happen from start to finish.”
It’s a definite phenomenon to me how using last names came about and why that persists in certain circles. But the phenomenon and epiphany of using both names together, particularly when telling a story and particularly in more small town or rural environments or even close knit settings is something that’s completely lost and non-existant during the normal course of conversation in todays’s world. Again, unless you’re introducing one person to another in a business setting. Think of the last garden party, or bar you may have happened to be in when someone introduced you to someone else. First name.
“This is my friend, Gerard. He goes by Jerry.”
No last name.
Introductions at work.
“Phil Dungworth? Rob Smedley. This is, ‘THE’ Rob that we all talk to from our Portland office who’s come to spend a day with us today.”
(Ohhh, that “Rob! Right. He’s just one of fifty voices I speak to every day,” you think to yourself. Then, when the dude opens his mouth to say hi and how nice it is to meet you – you try to remember if he’s that guy keeps calling and saying that their email is down again in Portland day after day after day.)
See? Casual on the phone in business. First name. But both names together for a business introduction.
Tell an old college football story. Having grown up in a college town, for example.
“Steve Shroeder’s on my left. Dan Cressida’s on my right and they hike the ball.”
(Now the last name only.)
“Shroeder and Cressida do the zig zag right in front of me grab Olmstead, their quarterback, one on one side and the other on the other. I salad tongs him around the waist. ‘Next thing you know the three of us are at the bottom of a pile of guys eight high. Smithens, Vernblaut, Kovach are yelling. Poor Olmstead’s got the wind knocked out of him and they have to wheel him off the field. Our only sack that season. We sucked that year.”
Sports stories and bragging rights, usually. Last names.
“Lee Tobin was our coach at the time and well, he went on to Brigham Young about three years later.”
I noticed we had that in the circles I traveled in when I worked at the grain exchange downtown all those years. So much so, that the first name blended into the last. One was seldom used without the other. At times, the last name only. But mostly both first and last together. Familiarity. Not mixing up multiple Jimmys, Dannys or Billys. Small town. Both names.
“Stubyers bought the Dec for Continental. (Pronounced, “deece.”) Johnlinn sold it to him. He was Staley.”
Both names. Oneword. Teachers in elementary or high school did that, too.
But, it seems, no one uses both names like that anymore. You’re either a guy or a dude or someone completely inconsequential to a story.
That’s how I knew Nick Nolte was from Iowa when Marc Maron recently interviewed him on Maron’s, WTF podcast.
“Gavin Eberhardt was a guy at that little storefront theater in those days. he tore tickets. Swept the proscenium before and after shows. Later, Jimmy Bretherton, Mitch Debois and Rob Eagen came into our little theater group and well, you know where their careers went. They’re big stars now.”
(You don’t know who these people are. But the storyteller does and he wants you to know them too!)
No one talks like that anymore.
The rift technology creates between people.
What are you going to do, dude?
Word Count: 1000. Post #1218