By My Name

  “Call me Jer,” I insisted for years. The mere sound of “Jerry” was an affront to my person.
  When I was a wee lad, accompanying my grandmother to the local IGA, Doug, the casher, would yell at the top pf his lungs as I stepped through the automatic glass doors, “Hey! It’s Jerry’s-a-ferry!” Jerry’s a FAIRY!” Jesus H. Christ! You could have knocked me over with a feather.
  Doug wasn’t being unkind. He was simply simple; a simple man making a simple rhyme that simply turned me beet red as everyone burst into laughter.
  I attempted sneaking in, unnoticed, through the side door, but he spotted me in the security mirror every time. “Hey! It’s Jerry’s-a-ferry!”
  As time went by, I shortened Jerry to the nickname my high school drama couch gave me…Jer.
  “Please, call me Jer,” I insisted when introduced to a stranger.
  Of course, the usual brow scrunching, and idiotic, befuddled look plastered on their confused mugs would follow. “Huh?”
  “That’s all they gave me,” I said, defending my choice.
  Names identify who we are in odd and certain ways. To me, “Jer” sounded hip and sophisticated. Jer might wear an ascot or sail to Europe on the QE2.
  On the other hand, Jerry was shy and earthy; a sensitive survivor of a bi-polar mother and a dysfunctional family.
  I stood at my father’s grave, gazing at his favorite spec of earth, sky, and mountains in all the world. At that moment, it dawned on me that he and all that surrounded me was part of me. My being was pollinated there. I bloomed into a young adult there.
  My mother was hell-bent on naming me Oliver after Oliver Wendell Holmes (Don’t ask). My father insisted on the simple humbleness of Jerry. So, Jerry Wendell I was christened.
  As it turned out, there was no hiding the fairy in Jerry. I burst out of the closet my Sophomore year of college; proud and loud about who and what I was. This homo spent the 1970’s and 80’s marching for Gay Rights and Women’s Equality. I waited in the halls of Congress to hear the verdict on Anita Hill and cheered with my husband when Gay Marriage was upheld by the Supreme Court. 
  Today, this Jerry lives his life…free as a Disney fairy; uncaged by pretension and lies. Call me what you will. I’ve rediscovered the Jerry in Jer.    

Richmond, VA. A devoted fan of Valley Haggard and Life In Ten.

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