The Old Coot asks, ‘Mike who’

“Mike’s in the hospital,” someone said at coffee the other day. Actually, it was eight months ago, but to an old coot it’s just the other day. “Mike who,” someone else asked? There are three Mikes in regular attendance at our gatherings and one infrequent Mike. A few years ago another Mike showed up with infrequent Mike and we had five Mikes on the patio outside Starbucks. 

It makes my head spin – Mike is heading down the road tomorrow – Mike is buying a building lot – Mike says the price of real estate is going through the roof. Mike! Mike! Mike! Who is doing what? We had to alter the name of the three regular Mikes to put an end to the confusion. We have: Turnpike Mike (he travels a lot), Michael, instead of Mike, and Mark-Mike, so called because his neighbor always called him Mark and he never corrected him. 

“How could you not correct him,” someone asked. I think it was Alan. I know it wasn’t me because I understood completely. I had a next-door neighbor who called me Norm. He did it a few times and I let it slip, so it became my name, to him. My mother often did the same thing, when she was livid because of something I did, like get grass stains on a new pair of plants. 

“Norm get in here this minute!” One of her five brothers was a Norm, a younger brother who irked her when he was little. So, if I got her mad she forgot I was Merlin and called me Norm. 

My son, who was seven at the time, resolved the situation with our neighbor. He told him, “That’s not my dad’s name; it’s Merlin.” The guy was embarrassed and apologized profusely. It didn’t matter to me. I never was thrilled with my name anyway, and being called Norm was kind of nice. It reminded me of my mom.

But all of that aside, this Mike thing is out of control; at least in my world. Aside from the three, sometimes four, once five Mikes at coffee, my memory cells are crammed full of Mikes: Mike Coleman, Mike Carns, Mike Wold, Mike Cook, Mike Poe, Mike Dennis, Mike McDonough, Mike Quinliven, Mike Murphy, Syracuse Mike at the Charlie Horse, Mike Dunlop, Mike Turcovic, Mike McFarland, and the Mike and Molly TV show. And that’s just off the top of my head. 

The only solution is for me to call every one Mike. I used to call everyone whose name I didn’t know, or couldn’t recall, “Tim.” If they didn’t correct me, I stuck with it. Now it’s going to be Mike; sorry Don, Lucky, John, Alan, Yaco, Dan, Rick, the other Rick, Daren, Eric, Lester and ike (Mike without an “m”), and the rest of the people I have coffee with, both north and south. If you don’t like it, just call me Norm. 

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