What’s In A Name?
It’s no small feat to have lived so long without being given a nickname. It’s something to be proud of in a small way. ‘Big Deal!’ you may be muttering right now, but let me tell you, that just about everyone I work with has a nickname, and if you heard some of them, then you’d know why I’m pretty happy not to have one.
A co-worker with a terminal case of dandruff has been nicknamed Lamington. Then there’s Snotty, Yappy, and Crackers. I’m fairly pleased that I don’t have a funny name, or any distinguishing features or habits that would give my workmates the ammo they need to label me.
My father was given a nickname during his time in the Navy, but I can’t mention it here because of the threats my mother made when I bought the topic up. She had ‘that’ look in her eye.
It’s a bloke thing. Women tend not to give eachother nicknames, or at least not names that they’re prepared to use in front of eachother. Recently while waiting in a supermarket cue, I overheard two women having a fascinating discussion which involved two ‘friends’ who were named ‘The Lying Cow’ and, ‘That Skank’. One of them noticed me eavesdropping and I was immediately labelled as ‘That Nosy Bugger Behind You’. I shuffled off to a different line.
My recent interest in nicknames was triggered when I bumped into an old primary school mate. I not only remembered his face, but his name as well, which surprised us both. We reminisced about our time together in the hallowed halls of West Gladstone State School, and shared information about old classmates, who they married, and what they were up to now.
A thought struck me, “Say, what was Deadcats’ real name?” I asked.
My mate looked bemused, “Dunno? I should know, but I can’t remember.”
It was a stumper. We could both remember the day Dead Cat was given his nickname, the person who came up with it, and why (don’t ask!), but neither of us could recall his real name. He had become, and remained, Dead Cat.
My brain kicked up a gear, “Didn’t you visit his house once? What did you call his mum?”
He smiled, “You’re not going to believe this, but I think we called her Mrs. Dead Cat?”
I didn’t believe him.
We fell into silence, straining our memories for clues, but nothing surfaced. “I wonder what became of him?” my mate asked. I suspect that he left Gladstone as soon as he could, determined to put as much distance between himself and that nickname as possible.
He’s probably in Alaska right now, working on the oilrigs, and I’m willing to bet some Eskimo larrikin has nicknamed him Dead Seal. These things happen.
Which is why I’m pretty grateful that I don’t have a nickname. That I’m aware of…