Comedian Bill Saluga had a bit that he did on TV variety shows. If you watched television in the late 70s you’ll remember it. A zoot-suited character named Raymond J. Johnson Jr. would appear. If you called him “Johnson,” he launched into a tirade:
Ahh, ya doesn’t has to call me Johnson! You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me Johnny or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me RayJay, or you can call me RJ… but ya doesn’t hafta call me Johnson
It was one of those routines that was funny once or twice but became tiresome when it was trotted out for the 100th time to get a cheap laugh. Also, I’d imagine, it was a tough way for Saluga to make a living. Squeeze in as many appearances as possible before your agent stops getting calls.
I was reminded of this bit when I met someone the other day. He introduced himself as his first and middle initial (e.g. RJ). As someone who prefers Bob over Robert I can appreciate the need to clearly state a preference up front. When someone insists on calling me Robert after I’ve told them that my name is Bob I can get a little irritated. Our preferences can change over time. My sister was known as Kathy growing up and requested that we start calling her Kate when she was in her 20s. Sometimes we have different names for different contexts. I known several people who are known by a diminuitive to parents, siblings and old friends (e.g. Joey) who would cringe if a co-worker used the same name.