They were boyfriend and girlfriend for seven months and he never once said her name. She noticed it early on but besides wondering How come...? She said nothing. Maybe he didn’t KNOW how to pronounce her name. This was the norm. Apart from her family and native Spanish speaking friends, it was rare for someone to fix their lips to say her name correctly. Despite it consisting of just two syllables. Her school years, she grew so weary of correcting her peers that she just up and answered to something that sounded very unlike it but was their best effort. It wouldn't be too farfetched to think he simply couldn't say it, and so decided not to? But still, how could she be with someone who didn't know her name?
She decided that she could not be, and so on the third weekend, the first thing she said when she saw him was 'Say my name.'
'No I'm serious, I want to make sure you can pronounce it. I've never heard you say it.'
He said it, and she immediately asked him to say it again, one more time to make sure. He said it again. And she was sure that he was one of the few that could pronounce her name. This was a good sign. She decided she like him after all.
But time went no and he never said it again. When he called her on the phone, instead of saying her name he would substitute a high pitched 'Heyy' that she at first found cute despite sounding somewhat forced. When she sat on the sofa of his studio apartment and stood six steps away in the kitchen, instead of calling out to her by name, to say, ask a question or make a comment, he would instead preface it with 'Hey...' To get her attention. And at times she deliberately pretended she didn’t' hear him, to see if maybe he would call her name, but he instead said 'HEY' louder, until she acknowledged him. This bothered her increasingly but she never said anything because she thought maybe it was a cultural thing. The price you pay to date someone from a far-away land. Also, she was trying to be less judgmental and less expecting of perfection of others where she couldn’t provide it herself.
One Saturday, they went together to the Golden Gate park where he would play in an amateur tennis tournament. It was just all just for fun and though he would never wake up early for all the hikes she wanted to go on, he woke up early for this. They laughed and joked while trekking through the gardens, and she realized she wished she had signed up and was coming to play and not just watch. Then she remembering that he had only mentioned the event to her after the deadline had passed. "I figured you probably weren't ready for it" he said when she asked why he didn't tell her before. With their coffee cups in hand and Google maps for back up, they walked on, searching for the artificial green.
They found the registration room eventually, seven minutes before start time and laughed with nervous excitement as they pushed the front door open. The check in desk was in a smaller open room to the right and to the left was a hallway filled with children art. "I'm going to look at these." She said, as he continued on towards the table on which several small trophies were lined up and behind which a sleepy looking woman sat drinking coffee. A little more than a minute went by as she admired the juvenile renderings, paying close attention to the one featuring a triangular shaped racket being held by a blue haired man. "Ugh, so cute." She said under her breath and barely finished the 'cute' when someone in the distance shouting 'Hey!'.
It was like car horn blowing on the street outside, an undesired sound but not one to pay any attention to. She continued admiring the Crayola masterpieces. Then the person said 'Hey... Hey...HEY!' Just like that, three times each time a bit louder than the one before. She glanced to the left to see who the rude person was, making so much noise indoors. It was her boyfriend trying to get her attention, by shouting out Hey! As if she didn’t have a name. Was this still a cultural thing? Or was he simply a clueless brute who shouted at his girlfriend as she would have shouted to a stray dog that jumped out of an alley to attack her.