Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's your name, little girl?

What happens when you think too hard

I have been giving people nicknames for as long as I can remember - at least since the day I realized that my given name is un-nickname-able. Oh to have been Elizabeth or Margaret - to invent a new nickname every time I changed my wardrobe! But I have one name and I always will, despite real efforts by charitable friends to come up with something interesting.

But that doesn't mean my friends are stuck with their names, and I habitually lengthen, shorten, translate, or completely ignore their first gift from their parents. For example, I am the only person (besides some homeless people in Seattle) who has ever called my husband 'Bobby' instead of Bob. Charlotte, Peter, Jerry and various Rachels have been called Carlotta, Pedro, Gerhard, Raquel. I staked my claim on a friend in college by shortening his already one-syllable name to, basically, just a vowel sound and a fricative.

And my kids - don't get me started on my kids. They've learned to respond to just about anything that comes out of my mouth in a certain tone of voice. Especially since I mix them up pretty frequently. What? They're 20 months apart - pretty much if I need the attention of one of them, I probably need the other one too, or at least he can tell his brother, "O HAI WHATSHERNAME SEZ DON'T DO THAT."

But there's worse. I have kind of a very bad genius for mean nicknames. I'm ashamed. But a little proud. And ashamed. In my defense, I never fire the first shot. It's always someone who has been either mean to me first or is a jerk in general.

My dear friend Bill once had boyfriend who was not nice - to him, to me, to anyone. That guy liked his cat and the Pope, and the rest of us be damned. Which, I suppose, he had a line on, because he was in fact a Catholic priest. On their first sleepover date he took Bill back to the rectory. So come on, he was basically begging to be named... Father Fellatio.

When I was a camp counselor in Maine, one of the girls in my cabin gave me fits. She teased one of the other girls whenever my back was turned, and would openly break the rules, and defy me when I called her on it. She had a habit of sneaking out after lights-out, forcing me to creep around in the dark, skunk-infested Maine wilderness (Stephen King country, full of psychotic rednecks and sentient, evil-minded... whatevers) with only a flashlight and a headfull of expletives for protection. I always found her with one of the boys from Cabin Josh (9 boys were in that cabin, 7 of them named Josh), and as I marched her back to Cabin 10, I would mentally compose the letter to her parents apologizing for sending her back to Fort Lee pregnant. I can't remember her real name. Lisa. But to me she will always be... Titsy.

Linda the Schizoid Drunk. Meatlips. The Scary White. Mistletits. Larry "I Speak French" Jenkins and Heather "Not Her Real Name" Hartman. (Not their real names). Barfy.

Oh god, I am going to get in so much trouble one of these days. No, but I'm not - I'm off it. Nowadays I have a blog, and I can satisfy my eponymical cravings with the nicknames I make up in captions or blog posts to protec
t the privacy of the people I like and love. They ain't ever mean. And when that fails, I can make up names for the 'regulars' at work, although truth be told, most of them name themselves by virtue of their... habits. Ick.

Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again
Two days til Halloween! Hey, if you have a particularly nice costume - nice enough that it ought to have a name? you call on me.