In case there's even one of you out there who hasn't heard this story already, here goes.
Once upon a time there was this guy I was (almost) married to. We'll call him Debbie, for reasons that will become clear later on.
Way back before dating me, in his university days, he had briefly dated a girl called Jennifer. It was a rebound thing, one of those impulsive date-someone-you-barely-know scenarios, and he described it like this:
"She was fun and enthusiastic, and about two weeks in it dawned on me that under all that enthusiasm was...nothing. Absolutely nothing. She was dumb as a shoe." This did not bode well for their torrid affair. He stopped wanting to sleep with her. She accused him of sleeping with someone else. He denied it in a weird, suspicious way, because even though there was no one else in the picture, he was keeping something from her. "You can't say 'I don't want to have sex because you're dumb as a shoe'!" They broke up, to the relief of all parties.
His friends said "You know, Jennifer is a pretty good name. We know a lot of people named Jennifer. Let's not sully it with her memory. We don't know anyone named Debbie--let's call her Debbie." And so they did.
When this story got into my hands, it got kinda...out of control. Adam and I gleefully renamed every person we'd ever dated, and then because we had to distinguish somehow, they acquired variations: MRD (Most Recent Debbie), for example, or double-Debbie. It became code for a certain set of undesirable behaviours--the inability to return a phone call, say, or refrain from sleeping with your sibling/best friend/boss. The lovely Shanghai is entitled to some crankiness about the handful of weeks during which she was referred to as I Can't Believe It's Not Debbie!, although I swear we meant it as a compliment. Lizbeth bought me a keychain with a dreadful tourist picture of the Rocky Mountains and the name Debbie emblazoned across the bottom. We flirted with the idea of recording another album and calling it "Debbie, I trust you."
By this point I owe an apology to all the people in the world whose name is indeed Debbie. I'm probably coming back as someone named Debbie in my next life. I promise to be pissed off about it.
The thing is, all those many Debbies of mine--I'm crazy about them. (Most of them anyway, and the ones I don't feel fond of, we refer to in Other Ways.) They certainly got to see their share of my erratic, neurotic, and downright unpleasant days. I owe the most profound gratitude to Debbie in all her guises for all the things I learned from her, and I hope she feels the same way about me. I would like to state for the record, however, that Debbie Travis and I have no personal relationship of any kind--I just like her TV show.