Henry, won't you please call home?

August 11, 1994|By H.H. Morris

I WISH Henry Morris would call home, which is probably in Tennessee. Once he does, maybe mysterious people will quit phoning me to see if I know his whereabouts.

But I probably have no one but myself to blame for my Henry problem. It stems from a small decision made years ago.

When I was a boy, the men on both sides of my family went by initials in formal relations. For example, they signed checks with their first two initials followed by their surname. At home, they were called by their given names or nicknames.

When I struck out on my own some 35 years ago, I maintained the tradition. H. H. Morris joined father, H. L., grandfather, A. C., and maternal grandfather, H. L. Hodson.

That brings me to the Henry problem. First, it doesn't help that Morris ranks among the 50 most common surnames in the nation. Second, with just a set of initials before such a surname in the telephone directory, I've become a target for many people who think I might be the person they're looking for.

With the same listed phone number for nearly 20 years, I've gotten used to such calls, and generally accept them as a small inconvenience. Most callers are polite and don't call at odd hours.

Usually, it's one call for a particular person and that's it. But that changed last fall. Since then we've received a half-dozen calls from people looking for a Henry Morris from Tennessee. None of

the callers has given us a reason why it's important to locate him.

The second one, a woman, tried to be cute. To my "hello," she immediately replied, "hello, Henry." To which I retorted, "Hell, no, this isn't Henry," and pointed out that we'd already told one caller he didn't live here and that we don't know a Henry Morris. I hung up on her apologies. The latest was a polite lady named Grace who informed me it was a "long-distance call from Tennessee." She obviously believes that Marylanders are foggy on geography.

I doubt that these calls are good news for Henry. I don't know if he stiffed his bookie, skipped child support payments or sent an arrangement of poison ivy as a Mother's Day offering. But if he reads this, I hope he'll call Tennessee -- not to tell them where he is, but to tell them where he isn't: at this phone number.

2& H. H. Morris writes from Aberdeen.

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