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Terry the Terrier

January 2018

My novel, THE POINT OF THE SWORD, features a little terrier called Terry. The name might seem redundant, but I hold a special affection for that name. You see, for quite a few years, six or seven, in fact, I was known by that name. It was not my intention to go from my given name, Debra, to Terry. I wasn’t even the one who changed the name. It was altered for reasons that still escape me. The moniker was given to me by a co-worker, a civil engineer whom I recall with quiet fondness because he was a quiet friend. I shall call him Mr. R. I’d be walking down the long hallway to my office room, back in the days of pre-cubicle world, and Mr. R. and I would pass one another. He’d smile and say, “Hi, Terry.”

I’d smile, “Hi,” and vanish into my office room. This interaction, along with some camaraderie, went on for the duration of time that I worked for the Federal engineering agency. Mr. R. would refer to me as “Terry” and I would go along with the name, almost pleased by it. Just as I was about to leave Federal service, however, he found out that my real name is Debra. He came to my desk and looked a bit embarrassed and very remorseful. He asked me why I didn’t correct him when he’d called me “Terry”. I softly laughed. “It’s a nice name. It’s just as good as Debra. I didn’t mind being Terry to you. And after the first few times, I thought it would embarrass you if I corrected you.” We both got a good laugh out of the missed understanding and the name confusion. Not that I want to be compared to a terrier, but when I first thought of a sweet name for the little dog that Sabine Mercier owns in THE POINT OF THE SWORD, the name TERRY popped up in my mind, almost like an affectionate terrier. A Norwich terrier seemed appropriately 1920s American. I know that Mr. R. heartily and happily approves of the choice of breed and the name!

During this same time frame in my life, I was often, very often, told that I resemble “Teri Garr.” I even recall a neighbor woman originally from the Boston area who insisted that I was a double for “Teri Gahhhhh.” She also mentioned Chrissie Evert as an almost-twin, and so did several customers in the local coffee café (Café Canela, pre-Starbucks) who then began to call me “Chrissie”.

I still don’t see much similarity, other than the blonde hair, with either of those two women. At that time, however, the name, Terry, was a big part of my life! Perhaps Mr. R. thought that I was Teri Garr, walking the green-and-gray-checkered linoleum floor, down the hallway in that Federal Building. Come to think of it, he bore a mild resemblance to Leonard Nimoy, albeit with a neatly-trimmed beard. At least no one thought I looked like a terrier!


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