Lou, Louie, and Louis

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

–Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet

By which name to call him by; by which name to remember him? Depends on when you knew him. His friends who knew him from when we were younger still call him Lou or Louie. But as he got older, he preferred to be called Louis and would introduce himself as such. I bet the distinction wasn’t obvious to most, but I knew. I could immediately tell how far back he and someone went by the way they saluted him. So why the name game anyway? It all goes back to an inside family joke.

The folks on my father’s side of my family like to drink (I know: shocking.). My uncle was no exception. He was kind of sloshed on one particular occasion and went on about his name for no particular reason. His name was Louis; my brother was named after him. “My name ain’t Lou or Louie. Don’t be like: ‘Hey, man. Hey Lou, hey Louie, man,’ like we’re in the street. Don’t call me that s***, that’s b*******. My name is Louis – the name of kings!” What the hell was he talking about – someone French in our family? We didn’t know, but we laughed about it all the time. And, you know, it made sense when we thought about it. My brother took note. Suddenly, he had a newfound appreciation for the name ‘Louis’, his given name – the name of kings.

Lou, Louie, and Louis, one and the same – my brother.

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