When I was in the fourth grade there were three Davids in the class – David Schmidt, David Long and me. In order for us to each have different first names and avoid classroom confusion, Schmidt was David, Long became Dave, and I was Davy. That was the only time when I was called Davy with any regularity or serious conviction. I didn’t relish it, but I didn’t despise it either – I merely accepted it. I assumed such problem solving was a hallmark of the adult world. My grandmother even gave me a gift of a black sweatshirt with white letters diagonally across the front reading “Davy.” People would drive by and call out my name and I’d wonder both how they knew my name and why they were using this nickname that I didn’t feel was truly mine.

This fourth grade distinction brought to my nine-year-old mind the theory I call the Three Phases of My Life. I saw it as clearly as a three-panel comic strip.

In the first phase I was Davy. Then, later, I’d be a serious college student somewhere beyond the borders of my local area, and I’d carry a briefcase and I’d be David. Finally, the third phase – which I see now from my middle-aged vantage point to be an entire range of phases itself. I pictured myself as the friendly neighbor, like Mr. Wagner next door. I’d be out mowing the lawn and washing the car on weekends. This was to be my Dave Phase.

This theory did not become an accurate portrait of my life. The name variations have been limited to Dave as a child and adolescent, followed by David as an adult. The idea itself though does remain quite vivid, largely because of the snapshot it provides me of myself at nine-years-old.

– David Greenberger

(aired on NPR’s All Things Considered, 13 August 1997)