D because I was David Diego, then came my brother Daniel, then came my brother Diego Gerardo, and then my mother needed another name that began with D when she was pregnant for the fourth time. My father Diego had little influence over my mother when it came to naming us. My mother Maria del Carmen was always the boss in our family. She only let on that my father ruled when we were in public, but not always. My mother had already decided that her fourth baby would be born in our apartment at 4545 S. Hermitage Avenue and no one could talk her out of it. Of course, my mother was still hoping for the daughter that I should have been; I would have been Debbie if my mother had her way. Even then she wanted names that began with D. So she thought of many names that began with D while pregnant. All of them girl names! No one could convince her of the possibility that she might be carrying a son. Everyone asked her if she had any boy names in mind, but she was so sure that this time she would have the daughter that she always wanted.
The morning of the birth arrived and a doctor I had never seen before woke us up in our bedroom. He told us to hurry up and get ready for school. There was another doctor with him who would assist in the birth. My father was there, too, but he was too weak from the labor pains to help us get ready for school. My mother claims that my father had morning sickness when she was pregnant with me. Knowing my father, I have a feeling that my mother couldn’t make up such a story. Anyway, when we came home from school for lunch to watch Bozo’s Circus that May 14, 1962, I had a new little brother, much to my mother’s disappointment. Can you guess his name? That’s right! It began with a D! However, no one was ready for the name my mother had chosen: Dick Martin Rodriguez. Martin was fine because it can be pronounced in Englsih and Spanish. But Dick? Back then, as now, Dick was a nickname derived from Richard, but more importantly, it also referred to the male anatomy more often than not. Even Mexicans knew that. Everyone questioned my mother’s judgment in her choice of names. Well, she was disappointed not to have the daughter that she wanted, so she didn’t actually have any boy names picked. Just by chance, the doctor who delivered my brother was named Dick Martin. And that’s how my brother got his name. I was already feeling embarrassed when I imagined how I would announce that I had a new little brother named Dick Martin in school the next day.
Since he was the youngest brother, he was called Dicky, which made the name a little easier to swallow. I mean, a little more palatable. From then on, everyone called him Dicky. That’s how he wrote his name on his school papers. When we went to Mexico, everyone called him Dicky. After a while, the name Dicky just referred to my brother and no one thought of any body parts. When I went to Mexico last December, everyone asked me about Dicky, as they affectionately remembered him. Well, as he grew older and traveled outside the neighborhood, his name became problematic, for the obvious reasons. He started calling himself Richard or Rick. Most family members had a hard time not calling him Dicky because we had grown so used to calling him Dicky. Eventually, he legally changed his name to something else. I didn’t know it until one day I saw a hole in the hallway wall at our house at 2509 W. Marquette Road. I asked my mother how the hole got there. She told me that she had pushed and kicked Dicky down the stairs because he had legally changed his name and she was very angry with him because of that. Somehow, as he fell down the stairs, he made a hole in the wall. I couldn’t believe my mother could get that upset because of the name change. Well, Dicky had changed his name to Richard Martin. He was no longer a Rodriguez. I was surprised by my mother’s reaction because, during and after her divorce, she hated my father and everyone in his family. She even hated the Rodriguez surname, even though after her divorce she remained Carmen M. Rodriguez.
Actually, I, too, was shocked that Dicky was no longer a Rodriguez. We were always the Rodriguez family no matter what. Nobody in the neighborhood wanted to start any trouble with the Rodriguez brothers. I asked him why he changed his last name and he said he did it because he was a musician and it was a better stage name. Plus, he got tired of all the insults he received for having a Spanish last name. Well, I had gone through the same situations, but I never even thought of changing my name just for that. In fact, I would toss out my surname like an in-your-face challenge to people whom I knew would be bothered by Mexicans. Anyway, he changed his name to Richard Martin and we began calling him Rick slowly but surely. That is, when we didn’t slip into old habits and call him Dicky. Career-wise, the name didn’t exactly work out for him because soon there was another certain famous Ricky Martin of Latino pop music who upstaged my brother!