Thursday, July 5, 2007

What's in a Name?

This whole Scooter Libby debacle has got me thinking about some things. Certainly about how RIGHT NOW! would be a really good time to go back and read, oh, I dunno, the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But also about names, diminutive monikers and nicknames in particular. (As the dread pirate pointed out, what kind of person calls himself "Scooter"? I mean, the implications abound . . .)

Most nicknames are given to us in our youth. Sometimes by parents who, after being all proud of themselves for coming up with, like, a totally kreative moniker for their newborn child, suddenly realize about 3.5 seconds into the process that widdle Alexandropova might be better off in the long run with just plain Alex.

Sometimes, it's because a big ol' serious name like Harrison or William – which of course works nicely after the age of, say, 45 for someone entrenched in law, medicine, or politics – doesn't quite yet fit that chubby cheeked little urchin who is at the present moment picking his nose and writing on the walls with Magic Marker.

Hence, Harry and Billy, like my cousin. Although, said cousin now goes by Bill. Perhaps because, while all growed up, he is neither a doctor, lawyer, nor, perish the thought, a politician. Bill is a happy medium. But it still sounds weird to me because I grew up calling him Billy. So when he calls, all "This is your cousin Bill." serious-like, it's as if he'd never, ever terrorized me with a hair brush, made fun of my driving, or given me that look when I told him Kelly Clarkson was the greatest thing to happen to pop music ev-ah. Note to Bill: you're still BILLY to Moi.

Then there are the nicknames we're given by childhood pals who can't say our names. For years in school, I was Pistachio. Even teachers called me that. Or those names that come about because we like a certain color or are good at a certain thing – Pink, Racer, Scout. A friend once called me Clutch, after a cartoon detective named Clutch Cargo, because of my investigative tendencies.

There are also regional nicknames – particularly in the south, where you hear a lot of Skeeters and June Bugs and Bubbas (I don't know what you hear in Los Angeles, though . . .)

Then there are those our loved ones give us – which can range from the diminutive to the affectionately descriptive to the downright annoying. S.B. and I don't have nicknames for each other. When he isn't referring to me as "Hey!", I'm Weeennnnah, dragged out all southern style-like and usually when he's standing in front of the refrigerator looking for the milk, which he can't find because his big ol' brain is busy making the world safe for democracy and he can't be bothered with details.

(Me, I call him S.B. 'cause that's what he is, regardless of his inability to focus on the contents of our refrigerator.)

So, Party People, share. What's your nickname? And, please, don't tell me Scooter . . .


Doris Rose said...

MAGOO!, Her Royal Highness, Miss Jeanne,Doris Rose and pendulemic, but Never. Ever"scooter" , puulesze.

Meghan said...

Mountain Goat, Kamikaze, The Happy Hacker (that last is from my field hockey daze).

There are others... but I'm too sleep-deprived to remember them.

Also, Kelly Clarkson is the greatest thing to happen to pop music ev-ah.

Orangeblossoms said...

Dread Pirate Wesley...... I love that movie. So sweet.

My childhood nicknames give away my real name. But I have gone by Rev. or Red (very occasionally.)

czar said...

Czar, for reasons having to do with my rather authoritarian administration of an office football pool many years ago. Also, it resonates with the fact of my Russian heritage; included in that part of my family tree is one of human society's most prolific mass murderers (you can look it up). A childhood nickname was Boob (reasons unimportant), but a playwright I know also started calling me that on July 4, with no knowledge of the prior history. Some things never change.

Wicked Thistle said...

Thistle, but you knew that one--also Pursey, Minnie Motor Mouth (which was just *rude,* Mrs. Saddoris, 'specially seeing as how you were my *teacher*), L'il Pooter (hey, also *rude,* Mark, my *rude* brother), Baby (from me dah), Sh*tA*s (from me mum), and Schmoopy (ala Seinfeld).

And one really, really good one that I have secretified forever.