What’s in a nickname?? I guess it somewhat depends upon what is in each
of us. To a point, we are defined by our loved ones, friends and relationships. As we get older, we get better at perceiving how our friends perceive us. Sometimes
it’s rewarding to get that inside view… and sometimes not.
I think our nicknames are revealing… as are our occasional lack of them. I know people who have no nickname at all, and some who have five or six. What does that tell us about those people? Do you have a nickname that your friends are fond of using? Do you have nicknames for some of your friends and special people in your life? If not, why the hell not??
It seems to me that a nickname is, at the very least, a token of familiarity, of understanding that person on another deeper, better, perhaps more personal, level. A nickname can be a tip as to how we see a person, or, if we’re really sensitive, how a person wants/needs to be seen. Nicknames hint at what sort of vibe a person puts off, what the comfort level is with that person, what the perception of that person is, from an outside point of view.
I know some folks who wish to be addressed by their formal name, like “Edward.”
Once one knows this, there will be no Eddie, Ed or Edwardo. No. It’ll be Edward, and it’s likely that’s exactly the way they want it. Doesn’t that tell us something about that person? I think so… not necessarily bad, just… something.
the question has to arise, do we define ourselves by our personalities, actions and communications to the point where others can figure us out, figure out how we see ourselves and what we probably want to be called? Yes, I think so.
A part of it is probably a comfort level with each other. Another part of it is probably affectionate. My dad had a close friend named Bob, and often I’d here him say something like, “What do you think, Bobber? Shall we take an hour or two and try our luck down on the river?”
Dad had another close friend, Steve James, whom he named me for. Never called him anything but Steve. Steve was part Native American, as was his wife, Pearl. They were strong people, had an abiding love and respect for their close friends, and had a good sense of humor. But respect of a relationship was at the forefront of everyone they knew. My folks, and all their other friends, knew that. There was no “Stevie” or “Pearlie.” That was okay… we didn’t love them any less.
I, on the other hand, have had as many nicknames as anyone I know. Not sure why, not sure if I want to know why. Mom and Dad always called me Stevie or Stever. Except when I messed up when I was little, and then it was for me the way it was for all of us with our moms… “Stephen! Get down here this instant!!” Her nickname, by the by, was “Swede,” though when she was in a mood, Dad would call her “The growl box.” No, she didn’t like it… Many of Dad’s friends called him “Hulse” or “Hulsie” – Doll Dixon would call him “Hulsie Cottontail” as he was a good dancer for a big man.
I’m known as Stevie, Hulse or Hulsie by many who know me well. Several friends over the years have called me Mister Hulse, and never varied from it. That one bothers me a little… have to wonder if they’ve perceived that I need more respect than I’m getting, or if they’re trying to help me raise my self-perception… or perhaps, C… something weirder than the above.
A couple of old and dear friends still call me Steffen. Now tell me… don’t you get a warm feeling when a good friend calls you by some other name than Thomas? Okay, maybe not… but I do. And when I like someone and am comfortable with them, I’ll pin a nickname on them in a heartbeat… if I can find one, and if they’ll allow it.
This is not written in stone, by any means. I know a Gary, a Jack, a Bill, an Eli, a Daryl and a Mary who do not want, or need, to be called anything else. Well, at least not by me. I also know a Bubba who would rather be called Bob, a “Dude” who would rather be called Bob, and a “Rex” who is actually a “Bubba” but who would rather be called “Gadfly.” Go figure.
I bring this up to you because people affect me in so many different ways. Makes me wonder if it ever happens to you. A college roommate of mine, Craig, became Fern and now Fernsie. It works. Another college roomy, Jon Lodge, dictated to us what he wanted to be referred to as… first Zodge, then simply Z for a time, and now Zogix! Yes!! The re-defining of one’s self… ahh, it’s a beautiful thing. Funny thing is, he’s right… he is a “Zogix” now. In spades.
Another close friend, a “Steve,” is comfy with Stefano. I like that. On the other hand, I know a guy whose nickname is Skip. I think his real name is Charles. He likes Skip, but don’t call him Skipper or anything else. No. But hell, I get that… we all have a perception of who we think we are… don’t we?
My son and our family dog had to endure a long list of nicknames, because we loved them both, of course. Dillon became Dil, natch… no, wait! When he was a baby we discovered he was allergic to milk, so we gave him goat’s milk for awhile, ’til we found out that wasn’t working either, and we went to soy, which worked out fine. He was our “Soy Boy” for a time. As he was a premie… he was so little at first, so we call him our “Edo man” in baby talk. That became “Edo.” God. Sickening, yes? Worse, that became “The eed.” Wouldn’t blame you if you stopped here.
Just sayin, tho, that’s how far this stuff can go. Anyway, Dil became The Dilster, Dillonio, moving on to Dudley, The Dud, as he grew older and more playful, and finally Dufus, The Dufe, and the crowning moment, Dufus Q. Wormwiggle the Third.
Still want more? Sure, our dog, Ruby. This oughta send you to the liquor store… we started out with Rube, the Rubester, Rubinski. Then we *creatively* broke off that into “Binski” and finally “Bin.” It was too bad, we used up so many of her 75-word vocabulary just remembering who she was supposed to be at any moment, that she often didn’t respond to Ruby, or No, down! or Don’t poop there, PLEASE don’t poop there… our bad.
I have a friend named Spencer. He was so worthy of a cool nickname, but I fear I let him down. The best I could do was “Spencerman…” a takeoff on “Superman” as he is an absolute magician as an audio engineer in his recording studio. But one of the indicators of a good nickname is the use of that name by others. To my knowledge, no one else has ever called him that. I would guess that he indulges me when I do. Sorry, Spence… oops, that’s doesn’t work either.
A friend back in Kentucky, named Michael Delbert, was, for a short time, nicknamed Mickey D. But he is above that, plain and simple. Two of my favorites are
1. a dear and close friend named Joe in Williamsburg (dare I say Billy’s burg at this point??) who was nicknamed by another friend of mine, who dubbed him, “Joe The Bear.” He is still Joe The Bear to some of us. Nicknames can be so cool.
2. My now ex-mother-in-law, Sonne Capehart. I used to tease her, telling her she was my favorite mother-in-law. Somehow, I began calling her “Fave,” and it stuck. And she still is, to this day, my Fave.
One of my cool sisters-in-law is named Staci. I thought she was a bit spacey when I first met her, so instead of “Space Case,” I call her “Staci Case.” Such a dear girl, I love her, she endures it to this day.
Occasionally, for whatever reason, a person sort of asks for both names, maybe because someone else is named the same. A friend, Steve Davis, has always been “Steve Davis” to me, as there were too many Steves around at the time. Also, a guy named Joe Neil. I called him “Joe Neil” for a long time, it just seemed right. After all, he was one of the guys who has always called me “Mister Hulse.” One night at dinner I heard his lovely wife Ruth call him Joseph, and then noticed that she always called him that. So now he is “Joseph” to me. It’s a respect thing. But when i think of him, it’s always, “Maybe I’ll give Joe neil a call…”
And my dear love, Betty, is now “B.” Don’t ask me why, I have no clue. I only
know that she is, indeed, my B and hopefully she will always be.
Have you been able to make heads or tails of this diatribe?? Of course not, that was never the point. It is merely a nickname ramble. There are WAY more nicknames of friends and acquaintances that I could share with you here, but, last I heard, this is a family program…
Little Stevie Hulse