What’d you call me? Though usually superfluous and rhetorical in nature, I must profess that I absolutely love this question – in fiction, and in life. Why?
Because most often, when asked, we already know the answer. But for some reason we need to hear it again. It’s a confirmation, a reassurance of what was said, heard, and in some cases believed. It’s a message, a critical moment, a build-up to a cliff’s edge where on the landing side of a perilous drop waits a fight, witty retort, or acceptance that no, it wasn’t too good to be true.
I like the question because only in exceptional cases is it really asked for audible reasons: What’d you call me? A cotton-headed ninny-muggin. Oh, sorry, I thought you said chicken.
We were in the operating room (or theatre, as they say) and the anesthesiologist asked “Dad, do you want to sit down?”
I looked over my shoulder and scanned the perimeter. I was the only male capable of reproduction on our side of the curtain. “What’d you call me?” I wanted to ask, my brows flattened to a seriousness only a man in scrubs could understand. But I didn’t, since all my energy went into keeping my knees from cracking each other. But I wanted to, because I wanted to hear it again, I wanted to make sure what I believed was true. I was on that cliff, right where I wanted to be; it was all real, wax build-up had no chance and I wanted to hear it again.
I may not have said it out loud, but make no mistake I asked the question: “what’d she call me?” I asked, because I‘ve been called a lot of things, but nothing has ever sounded so sweet. Dad.