What is most amazing about names is not how common one can be, but the great variety of them. How many people have you met with a name you'd never heard before?
Some last names heard only rarely are what might be called "Go west young man" names. Somebody somewhere wanted a fresh start by moving "out west" and changed their name. In a simpler time when paperwork was unknown, the chosen name stuck.
Other uncommon names are what are sometimes referred to as "Ellis Island names." That is, some ancestor arrived as an immigrant on Ellis Island where they either decided to adopt an "American" name, or one was assigned them because the customs guy couldn't spell their name right.
David Lewis, on the other hand, appears to be one of the more common names. In fact, Goggled my name and got 31,700,000 hits for David L Lewis in 0.24 seconds.
A pastor from Wales once told me that Lewis is a Welsh name and, according to him, the third most common surname in Wales. In addition, supposedly David is the fifth most popular Christian name in Wales. As the pastor said, "I've known hundreds and hundreds of men named David Lewis."
The Terre Haute phone book lists six of us, down from a high of ten. There are at least two others with my name in the immediate area, plus one other who lived in Clay City a few years ago. At one time I had some dealings with the wife of the Clay City edition and am thinking he must be either rich or better looking than me -- his wife was a beauty.
Over the years there have been some interesting experiences being mistaken for someone else:
In St Louis we lived on a street with the fancy-dude name of St. Cyr. This must have been the reason I received a collect call (for which I accepted charges) meant for the then president of what is now Boeing Aircraft.
A few years ago there was a phone call demanding to know when I was going to make arrangements to pay on my Ram. We'd just moved here from St. Louis where the football Rams play, which was the only ram I could think of. I assured the young lady I had never played the game.
In the 13 years we've lived in Brazil there have probably been 13 times someone has asked, "Are you the David Lewis who graduated from Brazil High School?" I am not.
Anyhow, I got to thinking about all this because of a cancelled doctor appointment.
Called our family doctor Friday to explain I'd be late for an appointment made for me back in April.
"You don't have an appointment."
"I don't? It's on my calendar."
"No, it was cancelled when you went into the nursing home."
The day may well be coming all too soon, but I'm not yet in a nursing home.
Turns out one doctor in Brazil Indiana has three patients named David Lewis. One of us is in a nursing home, one is unaccounted for. I'm the other David Lewis.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.