Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Richard," who was named for a hero of World War II, but whose nickname ("Dick") elicits snickers. My name is Richard, and my friends call me Dick. I'm 79 and 6-foot-4. I was football captain in high school, played at university, and spent four years as a military police paratrooper, so I have a few advantages working for me.
But I have never understood why anyone would worry about hurting the feelings of some nitwit who failed to show the respect that any person deserves. A few times over the years I've suggested to the speaker that he stuff that comment where it belongs and said I'd be glad to assist if he needed any help, although none of them seemed to need help. They didn't bother me again, nor did they attempt to socialize with me at all, but it was their loss, not mine. Richard sounds like he's capable of the same approach but chooses not to use it. Perhaps he should. — Another Richard
Dear Richard: We were surprised at the number of men named Richard who wrote to us about their names and nicknames. Read on for a sampling:
From Florida: I am 75 years young and have used Dick my entire adult life, in both business and personal relationships. Occasionally, I run into someone who makes a stupid comment. I stare at them and respond, "What would you have said if my name was John?"
Boston: My idea of the best response would be: "I was named for a war hero. How about you?"
New York: My father was also a WWII veteran whose nickname was Dick. I suggest "Richard's" response simply be: "Dick may be my name, but at least I don't act like one."
Orange Park, Fla.: I was named after my father, Richard Sr., who was called Dick. I was given the nickname "Buddy" so that I would not be referred to as "little Dick." I'm now 66 and am still called "Buddy" by my siblings, but I'm known to my friends as Richard.
Fort Dodge, Iowa: An acquaintance named "Dick" has a good line he uses when he anticipates an unflattering remark might be on its way during introductions. He says, "My given name is Richard, but my friends call me 'Big Dick.'" This is especially amusing because he is rather short in stature.
Omaha: I have many Richards in my life, beginning with my father, who went by "Dick." My brother is also Richard, and he uses his full name. My husband is Richard, but he goes by "Rich" most of the time. My son, Richard, goes by "Rick" at family gatherings but sticks with his full name at work. My father-in-law is also named Richard and goes by "Dick." If you are getting dizzy, take comfort that none of "my" Richards has ever had an issue with the name. I am hoping for a grandson I can call "Richie"!
Salem, Ore.: My name is Richard, too. I pursued a career in theater early on and thought that referring to myself as "Dick" might be less cumbersome on my resume. I was fortunate enough to land a major role in a Broadway musical about to embark on a national tour. But when we arrived at the first theater, I discovered that the producer's office had Freudishly changed my first name to "Peter." After that, I reverted to Richard.
Indiana: My dad's sister and her husband had a son they named Dick right after the war. A few years later, his brother had a son and also named him Dick. A few times a year we all got together at Grandma's house. To avoid any confusion, we would just call them Big Dick and Little Dick, and I never thought anything about it until I read your column.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.