Pretend, for a moment, that you're running to catch a subway train. A gentleman a few yards behind you implores you to "Hold the door!" You comply, and as he brushes past you with a smile he thanks you by name. "Thanks, Mike," he says, or "Thanks, Bill." As "The Twilight Zone" theme echoes in your head, you wonder, "How the heck does he know my name?"
This happens to me fairly regularly. When your first name is Guy, you can understand. "Thanks, Guy," says someone whom I've never laid eyes on before, or "Excuse me, Guy," or even, "Hold that door, Guy!"
Of course they really don't know my name (I have to believe that or I'd go nuts), but when some fellow shouts, "Hey, Guy!" on a dark and lonely street, then proceeds to ask me for directions, it can be unnerving for a moment. "Do I know this guy?" I wonder.
Growing up in the '70s with the name Guy wasn't so bad. All men seemed to refer to each other as "man." "What's happenin', man?" "Thanks, man," and so on.
As we moved into the '80s, "man" was replaced by the California surferspeak sobriquet, "dude."
Now, in the '90s, guys refer to other guys as "guy." For a guy named Guy, this is very perplexing.
"Clean your windows, guy?" the man with the squeegee asks.
"Need tickets, guy?" the scalpers ask.
Before all this, I thought Guy was a cool name.
I was the only "Guy" I knew, and it was easy to say and simple to spell. When someone called me a wise guy (another frequent occurrence), I could reply, "Well, you're half right...." It always elicited a chuckle from people who knew my name.
"Guy" has other advantages. It's gender-specific, for example. When I sign a letter, people know I'm a man, unlike other ambiguous monikers like Chris, Leslie, Dale, or Pat. And at work, if a male colleague wishes not to be disturbed by a phone call, I can honestly tell the person on the line that "I'm the only Guy here."
Another plus to being named Guy is that if I meet you for the first time and later you forget my name, you still have a decent shot at getting it right the next time we bump into each other.
That's happened a few times. I was introduced to someone's boyfriend at a party once. I ran into this individual recently, and he walked up to me and asked, "How's it going, Guy?" I figured he remembered me from the last time we'd met, even though I couldn't recall his name. Later on he asked, quite poignantly, "By the way, Guy, what's your name again?"
I'm not complaining; it could be a lot worse: My name could be Buddy.