My given name is Gordon Davidescu. Gordon Alvin Davidescu, if you really want to get specific. For most of my life, including all of my childhood, I have battled the notion that people get in their head that my name is not Gordon but rather is David. Frequently as a child, my teachers would call out to me with the name of David for the first few weeks of school. This was made more complicated one year when there was a David in my class, and I wasn’t sure whether or not I was being called.
Whenever people call me David, I try to correct them as gently as possible. “My surname is Davidescu,” I may say, “but my name is Gordon.” They will most usually apologize and explain that they are more used to Gordon as a surname, and David as a first name, and in any case they don’t know too many people with an ESCU suffix, and is it anything like the late Romanian dictator Ceaucescu? Yes, I explain, it is exactly like that as we are both originally from the same country — Romania.
“Oh, Romania!” most people then say, and will almost always add the following. “Like Nadia Comaneci!”
Nearly none of the people who have said this to me care a lick about gymnastics, by the way. They just love to show off the fact that they know famous people who are Romanian.
You would think that this would have changed in the age of e-mail. Most of the time, my name shows up in the “From” line exactly as it is — Gordon Davidescu. I also almost always sign my e-mails either just Gordon or Gordon Davidescu. Nevertheless, I still frequently get responses to my emails which address me as David. This was the case at my office last week. I answered a call and told the person that I would follow up with her via e-mail. Bear in mind that when I answered the call, I did say that my name is Gordon. I sent her some information via e-mail and when she replied, she called me David.
I replied to let her know some more information, and also to let her know that my name is not David but rather Gordon.
Seconds after I sent the e-mail, the phone rang. She called to apologize about getting my name wrong. I explained that it was quite commonplace, and she apologized again. A few minutes after we ended the call, I got a followup apology e-mail.
Just remember this the next time someone mispronounces your name — at least they’re saying some version of your actual name! Also — my name is Gordon.