SHE SAID: Nicknames

My mom always said that nicknames meant you were well liked. This theory arose coincidentally around the time I was dubbed “sniffer” and I have a sneaking suspicion they might be related. My nicknames included Fire, Snifter, Brandy Snifter, and Kid Sister. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

I tried to drop my lifelong nickname freshman year in college. I had everyone calling me by my given name, the unused one typed in on my birth certificate, for two whole weeks. It seemed, and still does, like someone else’s name and going by it was kind of like stepping into someone else’s skin, albeit briefly. My brief flirtation with normalcy was cut short when my dad came to visit and let the cat out of the bag. I see people from elementary school who are surprised I still go by my nickname. One of them said, “I thought you’d have grown out of that by now.” It appears I have only grown more and more into it.

I had friends called names that would make my mom blush. Names they would accept as monikers despite me being embarrassed to say the word aloud, much less address someone as such. I have had friends name their significant others something lame and terrible and oh-so-cheesy. I’ve had friends name their or someone else’s body parts, which I don’t really think is all that necessary. I had friends that fought nicknames tooth and nail, a tact which seemed only to make the name stick with more zealousness. And yet, I’ve had friends lament their nicknamelessness.

But if we are going to do a High Fidelity type list, as my co-writer is so fond of doing since everything seems to be rateable in his book, my favorite nicknames of the peer variety in no particular order are:

Log. One of my good friends was called Smokey after alerting the authorities to a fire. Since I was already called Fire, we got a kick out of the link. Our third friend, wanting to get in on the action, suggested we call her spark or flame. Smokey decided that no, Log was a much better idea.

FurPud. A guy I knew, called Pud by all who knew him, moved out West and dropped the nickname in the move. When some friends came to visit him, he reminded them that they were not to call him Pud since he didn’t want it catching on out West. His Eastern friends discovered, however, that his Western friends called him Furball, due to his extensive body hair, and when they all got together, Pud/Furball became Furpud.

Pearsie. When I was growing up, my best friend’s parents called his brother Pearsie. They said it was because he had looked like a pear when he was born. It always struck me as incredibly sweet, maybe it was the way they said it, and I remember it fondly to this day.

Kat-breath. I don’t know this woman, she’s a friend of a friend. But all her friends call her this both behind her back and to her face. Seems a bit … too specific. I hope she’s not a close talker.

America’s Guest. He came. Sometimes invited. He bummed a ticket, invite or twenty off of you. He was adored, stayed too long and entertained everyone the whole evening. Again and again and again.

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