Sunday, April 08, 2007

You can't judge a best friend by his name (MNA April 07)

Associate Editor

My best friend is a Dork.
That may sound mean to some of you, so let me explain. My best friend of over 30 years has the unique and sometimes difficult to believe moniker of: Steven A. Dork.
As you might have guessed, this name — what some may call unfortunate — has caused some leers, laughs, and giggles to come his way over the years, but he’s persevered, and never let it get him down.
He wears his name like a badge of honor.
The story of the name, as I’m told, is that it was shortened to Americanize it from Dvorak. That’s right — the same name as the famous late nineteenth century Czechoslavakian composer who wrote nine symphonies, fourteen string quartets, and nine operas.
So, from the lineage of a European musical genius came a name which, when the second and second to last letters were taken out, now means something far different. Today, as you are most likely aware, Dork is a term of abuse favored by Americans, designating the target of its use as quirky, awkward, eccentric, socially inept or simply of lower status.
Similar epithets include nerd and geek, but that’s not true at my house.
No, we don’t use the word much. Because the Dorks to us are my family friends of more than 30 years, and my best friend’s wife Kathy. Steve’s kids, Cameron and Spencer Dork, are even my godsons, and quite frankly, I feel un-loyal using the word in a derogatory sense, and have for a long time.
I met Steve some time around Kindergarten in Sunday school of all places. And we’ve been buds ever since.
We went to the same church (were acolytes together, went through confirmation, youth group, and many church retreats), attended the same grade-school from fifth grade on, went to Walter P. Reuther Junior High together, then Rochester High School, and four years as college roommates at Michigan State University. He was the best man at my wedding, and I at his.
He was there with me for every major event in my life, really.
No matter where I’ve lived, he’s come to visit me, too, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles; and we make time every summer to play a round of golf or two — it’s one of our traditions.
My kids are friends with his kids, and we get together with them at their cabin in Traverse City or at our house whenever possible. And no trip down to see my folks in Rochester Hills is complete without dropping by to see the Dorks.
He coming from a family of three sisters, and I having a solitary girl sibling, Steve and I are each the brother the other one never had. We’ve been a duo for all this time, Burg and the Dorker.
And as corny as it sounds, we’ve been there for each other whenever times were good, or bad. I could always count on Steve, and I hope he has always been able to count on me.
So I’d put my best friend up against anyone else’s — because I’m proud that my best friend is a Dork.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at:

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