CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last week, after writing about the death of our dog Murry, I was overwhelmed with kind emails offering condolences and sharing stories about pets.
I've been shored up by readers so often I'm starting to feel like a wobbly deck in a neighborhood of bored carpenters stocked with free lumber. Still, I knew there were lots of animal lovers out there, so I'd anticipated some notes of support. What I hadn't expected were the questions about my boyfriend, Didier, who I mentioned last Sunday for the first time.
"When are you going to tell more?"
"Where did you meet?"
And the most frequent, "What kind of name is Didier?"
I'll answer the last first. Didier is a French name, as he was born in Belgium, where his American parents were living for a few years while his dad worked for Hyster, a forklift company. While there, his folks met a couple with a son named Didier, and they fell in love with the name. Those who have known him since he was little call him Didier, but his co-workers know him as Mike or Michael.
His name is pronounced D-D-A. My daughter likes to call him A-D-D. His last name is Fleener.
Celeste likes him, by the way. He has her same odd (and often inappropriate) sense of humor. And she likes that he has three children, though they haven't yet met. My girl has been jonesing for siblings her whole life. The possibility has her enthused.
Technically, last Sunday wasn't the first time I wrote about Didier. The first was after my class reunion, where he and I met while I was manning the registration desk. He had come to my table seeking a new nametag. Said he felt like being someone else for the night. Among the names he considered were Buck Fifty, Arlo Prices, Kurt Reply and Hugh Jorgan. In the end, cartoon nostalgia won out and he went with W.E. Coyote.
Didier was attending the reunion with one of his co-workers, who was quick to assure me that they were just friends. I was drawn to him, to his intelligence and mischievousness. His sense of humor matched so well with mine, but, at the time, I wasn't yet ready to date, so he and I just texted and emailed, occasionally Skyped. Watched a few Steelers games together.