.... I enjoy being a bit of a curmudgeon, even though others may think or speak of me as an old fart!
This becomes clear to me around the business of “names”. I believe that each person has the right to determine his or her name. I also believe that teasing a person because of her/his name is nasty.
You may have read how I became Michael, i.e. how I began to use my good middle name. You’ll also know that many folks with the name “Michael” are addressed as “Mike”.
This is just fine for many “Michaels”, but it is not fine for me. I do not wish to be addressed as “Mike”.
‘Twas not always so. In my first two congregations (Fitchburg and Chicopee) I was known as “Father Mike”. When I moved to Pittsfield in 1984 I decided to drop the “Father” bit. I did so for two reasons. First: because there was no accepted equivalent for female Priests. It seemed odd to me that I would be addressed as “Father” but my female colleagues were addressed by their given (first) names. Second: because I began to understand that my relationship with parishioners was as brother rather than father. I still dislike being called “Father”.
Having dropped the “Father” moniker, I began to dislike being called “Mike”. I heard it as a harsher word than the more gentle-sounding “Michael”.
These days my curmudgeonly self “bristles” when I am addressed as “Mike”. This is especially at the times I am being addressed by some person who has never before met me. I get “ancy” when I tell some person that my name is Michael, and she/he assumes that it is O.K. to call me Mike.
The curmudgeon in me leads me to respond with words such as these: “I am Michael, not Mike”.
As I said earlier: “I believe that each person has the right to determine his or her name”. In other words - “for Pete’s sake do not call me Mike”.