Blog Entries, My Life

What’s In A Name?

Nicknames are funny creatures. They often come about based on a single event such as my friend who fell off her bike and skinned her knees very severely and was evermore known as “Scabby.” There was a boy who played with my children and his name was Jeremy, however, his little sister called him, “Germy.” And so did everyone else, me included, because that name fit. Sometimes, nicknames are derived from deliberate intention, such as her name is Elizabeth, but we call her Betty.

According to Wikipedia, a nickname (also moniker) is a substitute for the proper name of a familiar person, place, or thing. Commonly used to express affection, a form of endearment, and sometimes amusement, it can also be used to express defamation of character, particularly by school bullies. As a concept, it is distinct from both pseudonym and stage name, and also from a title (for example, City of Fountains), although there may be overlap in these concepts.

My parents unwisely named me Karen Carol. Well, it was unwise on their part because when a parent is irritated or angry and they use the child’s first and middle name, the child sits up and takes special notice. They figured out when I was a toddler that when they were angry or irritated at me, it was impossible to get “Karen Carol” out of their mouths smoothly. So, they kinda strung the two words together to make “Kareencorral.” Still nearly unpronounceable. So, they morphed THAT into “Clothilde.” Which I hated, of course.

With my childhood in mind, when I had kids, I named them names that, I thought, couldn’t be ruined. Rachel, Rebecca, Norman, and Jason. Plain, simple, and easy to spell. My grandfather called the twin girls, “Becky and Rach,” almost from day one and Norman was “Normy.” My grandfather passed away before Jason was born, so he never reaped the benefit of the humor.

As the kids grew, we ended up with Rachipoo, Normipoo, and Jasipoo.” The kids named themselves that. So much for my great plan. (No, I didn’t forget about Rebecca, but she passed away in infancy.) My kids are all in their forties and still refer to each other by the “poo” names.

Fortunately, I haven’t heard Clothilde in many years and I never ended up with a name like “Scabby,” so maybe I didn’t do anything negatively noteworthy.

Even my ex-husband never gave me a nickname. None of those cutsie names that lovers give to each other. I was always just “Karen.” Never did I hear, “Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Darling, or Dumpling.” I never gave him a nickname, either. He came with one, already. The first thing he ever said to me was, “My friends call me Jimmy, but you can call me Mr. Pope.” That should have given me a clue that the relationship was doomed from the start. Eventually, I did call him Jimmy. Friends? Who knows?

Photo by Neil Su on Unsplash