Sunday, June 9, 2013

When was the last time...

you met a newborn baby named Dick?  That's a name that has really gone out of style, hasn't it?  It must have been somewhat recently that it went out of style.  I know older people named Dick and people weren't necessarily scandalized by it.  I used to babysit for a Dick and his wife.  He was a lawyer.  Actually, all the people whose kids I used to watch were lawyers with the lone exception of one couple.  The wife was an accountant.  I don't know what the husband did.  But he was a bit of a dick because he didn't want to pay me more than $1.50 an hour and would leave me with his very young kids for long stretches of time.  I was 14 at the time and that was a pretty difficult task for me.  You'd think I'd at least rate $2.00 an hour for that, right?  I mean, I changed their cloth diapers and everything.

People aren't paying homage to Dick Clark or Dick Van Dyke by naming their sons after them.  I mean, I know it's a nickname for Richard, but surely there were people out there who named their sons Dick, not as a nickname, but as a given name.  I knew a woman whose name was Beth...  It wasn't short for Elizabeth.  Her name was Beth.  Surely there were once guys who were just plain "Dicks", right?

I wonder when the word "dick" became synonymous with the word "penis", anyway?  And I wonder what effect that had on guys named Dick?  Did they suddenly feel ashamed of their name?  Did they decide to go by Rick or Rich instead?  And how did they get their friends and family to change their habits?

I should ask my mother-in-law about what it was like to change her name.  Around the time my husband and I got engaged, she legally changed her name.  She was Mary Beth for most of her life, but now goes by Parker.  That's what I've always called her.  But she was probably in her late 50s when she did this...  I wonder how confusing it must have been for people who had known her all her life.  In fact, when we sent out our wedding invitations, we put her new name on them and my husband's dad called wanting to know who the hell Parker was.

I posed this question on Facebook and one of my friends pointed out that the name Peter is similarly potentially embarrassing.  But it's not quite the same thing, is it?  Because people don't go around calling people "peters" or "peterheads".  They might call them peckerheads or peckerwoods or penises. But they don't refer to obnoxious jerks as "peters", by and large.  That calls for using the mighty "dick" moniker.  Sometimes it calls for the mega "dick" moniker.

I think it would be kind of ballsy to call your newborn son Dick.  It would be even ballsier to call your newborn daughter Dick.

These are the thoughts that kept me out of the best schools...

Wonder what this statue thinks of the name Dick...


  1. One source says the word "dick" was first documents as a synonym for penis in British military vernacular in 1891. Another says that it came from the term "spoted dick," which was a British sausage shaped like a wiener. Who knows what's reall true?

    I asked my parents, and neither of them knows anyone younger than 50 who is still called "Dick." Perhaps some of the younger Riches and Ricks of the world used to be called "Dick." My dad said anyone younger than 60 who was ever called "Dick" who settled anyplace other than the hometown of his youth probably switched to Rick, Rich, Richard, or a middle name when he moved. It's really tough to change what one is called and actually have it take if one stays in a town where one was raised. It's like you can call yourself whatever you want and even legally change your name, but people who have always known you by another name will probably continue to call you what you've always been called.

    My mom's best friend, when she was teaching kindergarten maybe twenty years ago, had a "James Richard" enroll in her class a few days into the year. She asked the mom what the child was to be called. She told the mom there was another James in the class, but if the new little boy had always been called James, it would probably be best to continue to call him James; it was possible to have two little boys with the same name in the class, but if he had been called Jim or Jimmy, perhaps that would be an acceptable option as well. The momter of the child was thinking out loud as to all the things the child could be called. She mentioned that the "Richard" in his name was after his Uncle Dick. She said, "You could call him 'Dick.' " This was in the 1990's, whien the term "dick" as a synonym for penis would have been known by the average male in the kindergarten class. As bratty as she could tell just in the brief introduction that the boy was going to be, my mom's friend said she just couldn't do that to a child. She convinced the mom that it would be just fine to have a "James C." and a James O."

  2. I thought spotted dick was a dessert...

    LOL... Your mom's friend no doubt did that boy a solid. Any boy named Dick nowadays would no doubt have to learn how to fight.


Comments on older posts will be moderated until further notice.