21 Aug

Richard (variably pronounced Ri-shard)

I kinda fixate on names. They get in my head like advertising jingles and bad pop songs.

It’s a useful skill during the school year, but at other times, it’s a little annoying and strange. During the Tour de France, for example, I’m always blurting out names of cyclists.

Recently, I’ve had names of NPR DJs in my head. Daniel Shore, Carl Castle, Shimain Mills, Melba Lara, Michelle Norris. The list goes on. Weird, huh?

The other night, as I was lying in bed, the name Richard Strauss popped into my head, so I said it. “Ri-shard Strauss!”

Eileen responded by saying “Wagner” (pronounced Vagner).

I pondered for a second and remembered that Wagner’s first name was Richard. “Aha!” I thought, “we’re playing a little game.” So I went through my mental catalogue, looking for Richards. Naturally, I came up with Richard (Ri-shard) Virenque, the French cyclist who frequently won the polka-dot jersey. “Richard Virenque!” I said.

“He’s not a musician,” Eileen said.

“Oh, we’re just doing musicians?”

“Yeah. Richard Davis.”

Hmmm. “Keith Richards!”

“You can’t do Keith Richards. It’s first names.”

“Fine.” I could deal with that. I went back to my mental catalogue. “Richard Springfield.”


“Richard Springfield. He goes by Rick.”

She laughed. “I don’t know if that counts.”


“You can’t call Rick Springfield Richard.”

“Ok, then.” I was having a lot of trouble thinking of musician Richards. So I changed tactics. “Richard Davis.”

“No! I already said him.”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t your turn.”


“I said Richard Strauss. You said Wagner. So the next one was my turn. I’m saying Richard Davis. Your turn.”

“Fine,” she said. She went silent, thinking, and then said, “Keith Richards.”

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