LEAVE MY NAME ALONE
Hello, I’m Joe. And if your name is Joe, then you’re also the victim of an ongoing campaign against you and your good name. It is a problem encountered by a lot of people called Joe, yet a veil of silence hangs over the derogatory use of the name. I’ve decided to stand up for Joes everywhere and today I’m officially calling for an end to the use of phrases such as ‘Regular Joe’, ‘Ordinary Joe’, ‘Joe Bloggs’, ‘Joe Six-Pack’ and ‘Joe Public’.
We are thoroughly sick of the patronising and dismissive use of our name; deploying ‘Joe’ as a catch-all classification when referring to ‘the great unwashed’ is simply unacceptable. (As too is ‘the great unwashed’; it’s been proven that many of the great unwashed now wash on a regular basis, what with the developments in municipal water systems and power showers.)
The final straw for me occurred when my wife and I had a couple of friends over for tea last weekend. I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, probably something riveting like mortgage debt relief, but the man in question was about to use the expression ‘regular Joe’. He stopped himself when he suddenly and noticeably remembered that my name is Joe. He gave a nervous chuckle as he did so, hoping to alleviate a potentially awkward moment by laughing it off. But this was no laughing matter, and I certainly wasn’t smiling. There was an uncomfortable silence before my wife, realising how deeply this type of thing affects me, said: “More banana bread anyone? Gosh it’s a bit cold isn’t it? I might turn on the heat.” But no amount of oil-fired central heating could thaw my frosty countenance. “Look Joe, I’m sorry about that I didn’t mean…” started the man, but I cut him short. “Don’t bother,” I told him. “You’ve said enough already.” We sat in silence for another forty five minutes, after which my wife said: “So, nobody for more banana bread then?” The couple then made their excuses and left. I suppose the one positive thing from the incident was that we still had plenty of banana bread.
Phrases like ‘ordinary Joe’ are everywhere: the radio, the television, newspapers and magazines. The broadcast media is especially irresponsible. I recently heard a radio news reporter use the expression when talking about a by-election candidate. “Yes it’s true, he does indeed wish to portray himself as a regular Joe,” the reporter said, “But the thing about it is, he genuinely appears to be just that.” What a shocking lack of regard for the Joes of this country!
What some people seem oblivious to is the fact that there are, and have been, many great Joes that you couldn’t describe as ordinary or average. Joe DiMaggio for example. The New York Yankees baseball legend famously (but briefly) married Marilyn Monroe, who, it was said, fell in love with his beautiful name and lack of ordinariness. There was the Mullingar Bachelor himself, Mr. Joe Dolan; he wasn’t a person you’d consider plain or average. All the great boxers were named Joe too, signifying the power and manliness of the name. Joe Bugner, former British and European heavyweight champion, Joe Frasier, the first man to beat Muhammed Ali professionally, and Joe Louis, one of the all-time greats, are just three examples of how Joes are not to be messed with when it comes to boxing. And what about Joe Duffy? Actually, maybe we’ll leave the ‘Famous Joes’ bit for now.
So what’s to be done about this Joe business? I’m calling on all my same-named brethren to join me in a ‘Million Joe March’ on Dail Eireann. It’ll be a show of strength and a defiant gesture of solidarity. We’ll show everyone that we’re no ordinary men. Let us send the message to society that we’re not standing for it any more; we’re marching instead. Bring a packed lunch and a small bit of spending money. (I might be able to get a few loaves of banana bread.) Only Joes are welcome and a valid ID will be required. People who go by the name of Joey, Josie or Jo-Jo will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Your time has come Joes of Ireland: let’s show them we’re not taking it any more. Now, does anyone know of any other famous (living or dead) Joes? Does the 1999 Grand National winner Bobbyjo count?