A good friend of mine invited me to his family’s house one weekend back in college. They lived in coastal Connecticut in a beautiful old house with something like 8 bedrooms. My friend and his family were gracious hosts and people who were easy to like and feel comfortable with. My buddy had told me lots of interesting and funny stories about his family; one tale I vividly remember him telling me was that his mother had attended school with a woman named “Ophelia Dickey.” It’s incredibly juvenile to be amused by names that play on parts of the anatomy, but I still giggle when I encounter a moniker like Dick Swett or Holger Wank. Or, needless to say, Ophelia Dickey.
Anyway, the whole family was at my friend’s that weekend – my friend’s older sister and her husband, his twin brother – and we had a nice meal one night at the big dining room table. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable time for me to say to his mom, out of the blue, “I’m told you went to school with someone named ‘Ophelia Dickey.’”
“What? No I didn’t,” she replied, somewhat aghast and completely broadsided by this odd comment from me.
It’s not clear where my friend had gotten the idea that his mom had a classmate named Ophelia Dickey. In any event, whenever I encounter a funny name like “Dick Harden,” I’m transported back to that evening, recalling how stupid it was for me to mention to his mother, at dinner, in front of the whole family, that I’d heard she had gone to school with Ophelia Dickey.