Friday, September 2, 2011

Family Names

They call me NotBob.

"They" - LK's family - welcomed me as most families do when I replaced husband #1 more than a quarter of a century ago. However, over those many years they have learned to ignore most of those things they didn't care for about me initially.

They have even given me a new nickname within the family.  Whenever I do or say something stupid or offensive (as I seem to do quite often), they just raise their eyebrows a bit and shrug their shoulders, dredge up old memories of LK's first spouse, Bob, and call me by my new name: "At least he's NotBob."

I came to understand this when we were talking about other members of the family this week (as you do when you get together). One member of the clan had been married to a guy I will call Harry. It was a general consensus within the family that Harry was a complete idiot, incredibly annoying and extremely vain with no earthly reason to feel that way about himself.

Although this view that he was a super-jerk was widely held, little was said to Harry or Mrs Harry until the marriage came crashing down. Now whenever Harry is discussed, it is with a roll of the eyes, a snigger and a favorite story proving what a twit he was.
Harrry was eventually replaced by a guy we'll call Jim.  He was such an improvement over Harry that a few in the family started googling "canonization" to see how long before he could become Saint Jim. Unfortunately, familiarity bred not contempt,  but certainly a lowering of enthusiasm.
A few weeks ago Jim did something that really, really annoyed the brother of Mrs Jim (formerly Mrs Harry).  Uh-oh, one of us said as we were talking about this, and most of us began to wonder if she had helped another super-jerk cross the clan's moat.

Having spent more than 25 years in the family, I was able to join in the discussion. "Nope," I said, "Jim has a long way to go and a lot more mistakes he can make before he's in trouble. Remember, he's NotHarry. And anyone who is NotHarry starts with at least 100 points worth of mistakes they can make before they have their license revoked."

Strangely enough, everyone understood what I meant and nodded in agreement. "Not a bad way of looking at it," said LK. "You're absolutely right. Now that you've mentioned it, I can't count the number of times I have said to myself, 'Remember, he's Notbob.'"

We changed subjects soon after that so I didn't have to go into more detail about this NotWhoever business. For I am well aware that my first two wives each divorced their next husbands, meaning that being NotDon apparently came with a Use-by date. So I've been extra nice to LK lately, not knowing how much longer being NotBob will work but figuring after this long it can't have much credit left in the account.

And just a piece of advice to Jim. If I were in his spot I'd certainly stop annoying members of the family. NotHarry won't last forever, either. And replacing Harry at the top of the super-jerk mountain is not a result anyone should want.

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