I have a name. Like most people- I also have numerous ID numbers as well. Credit cards, driver’s license, work, rewards clubs, etc… But I have a name that I was given at birth.
Josef Andrew Havelka
This name was given to me by my mother. My first and last name were my father’s. The middle name? No clue why. Originally I was to be called Michael after my uncle, but at the hospital when I was born, I wasn’t exactly healthy. So my mother hurriedly named me after my father just in case. I was also baptized a couple days later as a Catholic, just in case. But 40 years later, “just in case” has defined who I am and who the world thinks I am.
Growing up, I was called Josef. Unless my dad’s Czech friends were nearby. They called me Pepik Junior. Mixing Czech and English was how they talked about me. I became accustomed to hearing the name. Having never learning Czech, I could still tell what was being said. My father never wanted us to speak his home language. He kept that to himself in order to keep things from us as well when he spoke to his friends. But I learned how to read into annunciation and body language. I could tell if what was being said was kind, mean, sad, or sympathetic. Because of this, I have become a good judge of character, often being able to sense people’s comfort levels with one another in social interactions. I am very aware of how I am perceived as well, often hiding my true emotions.
As I grew up and hit Highschool- my name stayed the same for most of the years. Friends almost always called me “Josef”. The occasional shortened version, “Joe”, was thrown in from time to time. But Joe was my father’s name, so I corrected them to call me “Josef”. At the start of Grade 11 Chemistry, the teacher called out attendance. He got to my name and asked what I preferred to be called, “Joe” or “Josef”. I said it didn’t matter. He then asked what my parents called me at home. Without missing a beat, I told him my father calls me “Asshole”.
As I entered adulthood, I tried going with the name “Joe” but I’m not fond of it. People do call me it, and I respond. Some people call me “Joey”, “Jo-Jo” or “Broseph”. In some weird way, I like to hear my name pronounced “Yoosef” by some of my European coworkers. It reminds me of those days when my father’s friends spoke of me. It reminds me of the smell of cigarettes, beer, and whiskey. Along with the sounds of laughter and foreign accents.
All of that being said, the one thing that bothers my wife (far more than it bothers me) is when people spell my name “Jo”. Her opinion is that it is the feminine shortened version. I suppose she is correct. But it’s only been the past few years that this has occurred. I blame shorthand, lack of spell check, and a lack of respect for this laziness.
How about everyone just calls me Josef? With an “f” not a “ph” at the end.