Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Davy Chronicle

"Davy" is a four-letter word. I should know. I have a faux business card that uses that as the motto.

The other mottoes on my faux business cards are Ask About Our Daily Specials, Radiating Genius Since 1958, Where the Beef Is, If It Sounds Good I Wrote It, Where Counterpoint Still Matters, I'm Not an English Horn, and the ever-popular The Name Means Quality. That's Judy Sherman to the right, wearing that motto, along with my startling 1974 visage.

I write from the south of France, in what is by far the largest leg of my colony and residency hop, and have decided to let my colleagues know that I go by that moniker. It's usually a long  process to convince others that I am serious about it, and usually I get questions about why such a serious person as moi would go by such an unserious handle.

Here's an answer! By using it, I immediately make it serious!

Yeah, I didn't buy that, either.

The answer is much simpler and less glamorous that you would think. On the other hand, I don't think it's glamorous being called Davy. Maybe holistic. Perchance to dream.

And here it is. When I was in graduate school, my sister Jane took an arts and crafts course, one of whose units was making t-shirts with letter transfers shaped like clowns. There I am with Martler wearing one of the two shirts she made for me. That one says MY STRO. Note how only four letters fit on a line.

She tried to make a shirt that read DAVID but the letters didn't fit. Thus, the other such shirt I had read DAVY. My homey Michael Pratt, who conducted me and Beff and many others in the Princeton orchestra, started calling me that because of the shirt, and within my immediate circle of friends (actually, it's more like a bean shape), it stuck. Meanwhile, Jane's husband John has a brother named David, and as uncles we were distinguished by which one was Uncle David and which was Uncle Davy. I got to be the latter.

Wait — "radiating" genius? How do you do that?

I was always amused by how silly some people sounded calling me Davy — George Edwards being at the top of that list. Milton Babbitt never joined the Davy bandwagon, though I'm tickled to think that there was ever such a thing as a Davy bandwagon. I'd buy two. Then I'd see if I could find a Davy Train.

The only feasible moniker I don't like is Dave. Thus, two syllables, please.

When my stint in Rome got me all Italophilic and stuff, I got to signing my emails zio davino, or Uncle Davy, soon abbreviated to -zd-. During that Rome year, I finally defended my dissertation, and immediately revised my signature to -dzd-, for dottore zio davino. I still use it, though on special occasions I amend it. When I was writing Ten of a Kind, I signed -dzdcpv-, or dottore zio davino compositore per venti. Yes, the pretention drips, but I have a pan to catch it all. For a few weeks after this review appeared, I used -dzdttb- for what will be obvious, if dumb, reasons.

I end with a scintillating anecdote, for which there are many scintillas of evidence. When my nephew Jason was about three or four, I had called my sister Jane (she lives in Colorado now, as she did then) to chat, and Jason picked up the phone. I said, "this is your Uncle Davy. Is your mom there?" There was the sound of the phone being dropped, and I hung on for a long time and nothing happened. Ten minutes later I called again, Jason answered again, and still no Jane coming to the phone. I waited a full half hour and called again, and Jane answered. "Oh, Jason was just talking about you!" Jane had been vacuuming and didn't hear the phone, and twice Jason bounded into the room shouting out, "It's Uncle Davy!" She thought he was just doing another one of those imaginary play scenario things that kids do...