There was a time when nicknames were stylish or a testament to awe: Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, Broadway Joe Namath, Air Jordan, Wilt the Stilt. Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll. Sinatra and his crew were the Rat Pack. Growing up, a friend's Dad was nicknamed Sharky Easy. I thought this the coolest of nicknames and extra fantastic we, the kids, could call him that as well.
JohnnyMac received that nickname in college. One night, my friends heard it his old college roommate call him such. Unaware this name was reserved to a certain band of brothers, they began to call him that. As did I followed by my entire family and all of my friends. Months later he did advise the name was more of a reference point to a certain era of his coming of age. Well, not any more. I told him I cant wait until our son and his friends can call him JohnnyMac. My own in-house version of Sharky Easy.
But as an elementary school kid, nicknames are rarely beneficial to your social status. While I was on the front end of peer pressure, I still had my turn. In junior high school, a sassy rascal pants-ed me. This was an unhip version of snapping bra straps (I had no bra straps! dammit!) So I got the nickname Peach Fuzz. Seriously? But in 7th grade, puberty was still a long train ride away for me. This was the drawback and benefit of living in an era where all the dairy and meat products were not laced with steroids and antibiotics in that girls grew at a normal pace. In 9th grade, a wretchedly sassy troublemaker donned me Flatty Patty. By the way, I can't help my genetics. And my name isn't Patty, dumbarse. Who knew I wouldn't grow out of it until high school, figuratively AND literally.
Once that lazy and late visitor puberty finally made me grow upward and outward I was free! Only to find out that a boy we knew would don me with a new nickname that was even worse. I remember my step-dad telling me this pearl of wisdom: Don't react to it. Are you kidding me? I remember thinking....umm, WOW, that is profound. Except, I am a teenage girl. Control emotions? Do not react? You might as well have asked me to wear a prom dress made of scrambled eggs.
Of course, all of my close girlfriends had nicknames in high school more hypocoristic than destructive. Ditto that for girlfriends from college. It is challenging for me now NOT to call my girlfriends those names: TazBudPoo, FernBernWern, NatSprat, Tigger (who was also Snortin Norton), Action Jackson, Bell from Hell, Muppet, Jodio, MarciaGarcia, ShaNaNa.
I am certain this induction into the fun of nicknaming honed my creative skills and I have coined a few nicknames myself over time. And since the universe is fair, I think I have earned the chance to give a few out. Believe me, none as socially reprehensible as "PeachFuzz".
My intent is never malicious but mostly descriptive. I will admit, I ran with a wickedly clever crew in graduate school and in the middle of learning about Civil Procedure and Tort Law, we were the absolute worst about nicknaming. I think back and it was a long, long list: RedLegs, Gargamel, the Porpoise, Frosty, Wrinkle, DomPerignon...ahhh, the mere recall transports me back in time. And I think I would take being called Peach Fuzz over Gargamel. If you do not know who Gargamel is, he is the nasty man who torments the Smurfs. If the cloak fits...
BUT, a former beau once told me that his Dad was such a great golfer and made it all look easy. I thought he said his Dad was called Easy Eddie. When I met his Dad, who is a fantastic person with a great personality, I called him Easy Eddie. I proceeded to call him Easy Eddie. For two years. Before being asked at the dinner table with about 20 people why I called him Easy Eddie. I explained the golf reference. And then was advised his nickname was Steady Eddie. Uh oh. My beau apparently didn't have the heart to tell me. The nickname theory can backfire.
And a guy friend once asked if he could set up my roommate with his friend "Porkchop." Ummmm. No. We were 31 at the time. Do you want to be called Porkchop at 31?
Once, at my BFF's house, we were discussing her pregnancy and potential names. She made her husband tell me his list which I deconstructed by demonstrating the many (and awful) nicknames we could create from said list. My BFF laughed and said, "SEE! I told you we can not name our baby ___, ____, or _____." Oops.
When we found out we were pregnant, as we discussed names, you know I put my brain in overdrive to test the potentially ill-fated nickname our yet to be named baby might suffer. I worked those names from every angle and since the baby's sex would be a surprise, we landed on two very solid names. (Oh, and I learned you NEVER tell anyone your name beforehand if you do not want them doing what I did to my BFF's husband.)
They clearly passed the nickname test but the day may come when our son has a nickname. I hope it is a good one. Not Gargamel. Or Porkchop. The day may also come where he dishes out nicknames to his friends, or worse, us. Maybe we can simply remain JohnnyMac and JennyMac. And pray to all the heavens, our son doesn't grow up to call himself "The Situation."