I was sixth-grade, going into seventh-grade and my parents called me into the living room. This was always bad news; it was always something kind of fucked up. Being called into the living room meant that they were going to re-live every god damned thing I’d ever done wrong or were going to accuse me of shit I hadn’t done but they were sure I was about to, or was going to explain to me how my very existence pained our savior.
“Danny,” they said.
””Yeah,” I said.
“You can’t be called that anymore. That’s a baby name.”
My folks, you understand, were insane for child psychology. My oldest brother didn’t quite end up the way they’d like, instead ending up like every other kid his age at the time, so my parents went batshit crazy reading books to fix me and make sure it wouldn’t happen again. I wasn’t allowed to have friends outside a certain age ratio and there was a bowel chart with gold stars stuck up on my bedroom wall. Why I am not, today, an axe murderer with cannibalistic tendencies remains a mystery.
But they’d called me into the living room to tell me I was no longer allowed to be called Danny, the name I’d used all my life, and instead had to pick another: Dan, Daniel or Shane (my middle name.) I should have gone with Shane, so much cooler than the other choices. But I didn’t, I went with Dan because that was one of the ones I was suddenly allowed to be.
I told my friends: “You can’t call me Danny anymore. I’m not allowed. You have to call me Dan.”
They thought I was crazy. I think they were right.
“No, never mind how you’ve known me for years, my parents have decided that I have to change my name. So call me something else from now on.”
My friends: “Uhhhhh…”
My parents: “This name change is going to make you so much more mature.”
Me: (holding up hand puppet) Meow meow cat witch!
So I got shuttled off to a new school where nobody knew me as Danny and it was a given that my name was Dan; a macho moniker befitting my studly persona. And I’ve been that ever since. But you know what? Secretly, Danny suits me a lot better.