Nicknames

We lived in a small town in North Carolina for a while and everyone had a nickname. Sometimes even a first name sometimes sounded like a nickname. There was Uncle B.B. who was known to family members as Pork Chop. His brother to those who knew him well, was Ham Bone. Nicknames can be an endearment — or can just as easily be something demeaning, I suppose. My childhood nickname was Pinky and occasionally Mimi, though no one calls me either of those now. My brother Charles was Toddy, my sister Sara was known as YaYa. What happened to those little people? I bet they’re there, inside of those grownup people. In Neil Gaimon’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, one character tells another that there truthfully are no grownups in the world. They are all still small children, who just happen to be locked inside bigger bodies.

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5 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    I received my first nickname from our next door neighbor. Janet had psychophrenia and developed her own language revolving around the volcano world she lived in quite a bit of the time. I was about 9 years old when I acquired the name Rovena. She was the only one that called me that unless one of the other neighborhood kids was trying to tease me. In middle school my two best friends were Mexican. I could speak the slang lingo with a great Mexican accent. They took Rovena and massaged it into Beaner. I was one of them! The whole neighborhood, and there were lots of us scoundrels, called me Beaner. I still love it when they call me Bean – a term of endearment.

  2. Kai Kunkel says:

    I use nicknames for the kids all the time but I often wonder how they’ll feel about them as time goes on. Will they remember them fondly? I loved being called Kai Bird, Kai Kai and Kaiyak as a kid. My aunt now calls me Mrs. Yak. 🙂

    • Mary Kunkel/Lightly Tethered Admin says:

      Because Joe used to sit in front of the speakers and rock back and forth to the beat of the music, one of his early childhood nicknames was Boogie. Doubtful that he would appreciate being called that at this point in life. 🙂
      PS: I love ‘Mrs Yak’!!

  3. I love this Mary! Welcome to the blogging world.
    With respect to nicknames–they can do much harm too. although I was a scrawny little girl, I was the only child most other kids knew whose name was Jaqueline. To be mean they shortened it to Jackie Gleason and then fat-Jackie-Gleason. This is one of the reasons why I hate it when someone assumes it is okay to shorten my lovely name and call me Jackie. so I adopted Jaq (pronounced Jack). It was my way of taking back my name and a bit of ownership.

    When I became a grandmother I wanted a name that made me stand out in the mind of my grandson. due to divorce and remarriage on both sides of both families, there was a plethora of “grandmas.” Most of the herd opted to be called Nan. I chose Mim–after the marvelous, magnificent, mad Madam Mim from the Sword and the Stone. There is no doubt in any of my grandson’s minds who Mim is!

    • Mary Kunkel/Lightly Tethered Admin says:

      Thanks, Jaq! I have a piece coming up about various names for grandparents — hoping you will want to comment! 🙂

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