Richard Wallace Roode, that’s my name, technically anyway, but most people just call me Whitey, if they know what’s good for them that is! I picked up that nickname on account of the blonde mop on the top of my pointed little head. Actually I was only toe headed as a child but the name kind of stuck with me throughout the years. Besides, when I was growing up the short version of Richard was Dick. Why you ask, good question and one I asked many times of mom and dad for which they never gave an actual answer, unless of course you count my dad’s standard “kids should be seen and not heard” response. So Dick was a name that I dodged all thru childhood. Dick Roode, I don’t know sounds more like a statement than a name, don’t ya think? For cripes sake, my poor knuckles were scraped raw by the fourth grade defending my good name each and every recess on blacktops and playgrounds spread over five different states (we moved around a lot, my Dad was a Navy Chaplin).

I was sort of a runt as a kid, and with a name like Dick, well, let’s just say you had to toughen up PDQ (pretty darn quick)! There weren’t too many choices with a name like mine; you either went with Dick and all of its less than flattering rudiments, like for instance, Dickey the squid, Dick Dick wanna lick, Dickenstein, and my personal favorite, Count Dickula. Or, you went by Richard and got tagged as a momma’s boy for life. I would have been doomed to live my life as a perennial nerd had it not been for one of the perpetual battles with little brother Chucky. Mom had dropped us at the Encino Theater one Saturday afternoon while she and dad “went shopping” (parents must think kids are stupid), and during a double feature of “Bandelero” (the requisite weekend western) and “Bullet” (who doesn’t love Steve McQueen) my Dick days ended. Chuck and I had snagged two of the coveted seats, center screen and 10 rows back. As usual, we were arguing over who would hold the large coke we shared and who got to hold the popcorn, when someone behind us hollered,

HEY WHITEY, MOVE YOUR FAT NOGGIN YOU TOE HEADED FREAK!”

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