April 2018

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DAR #24: Call me...

DAR #24: Call me Mary. Or Miss Mary. Or Ms. E., Sister Mary, Em. Don't call me Merv or Casper (junior high nicknames), Marybell (only my Dad can call me that), Sweet Mary (that's Ann), or Goldie (Alex seems to think that, like Goldilocks, I can be a bit particular about the temperature or music volume.) I am thinking about nicknames, how some are shorter than the given name and some are longer, and why we give them.

Several friends, like me, have one letter names: e, g, gangsta j and sistah j, eL,  em (that's me), and pea (not pee). This makes sense because in this world of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and FLAs (Four Letter Acronyms) we're always shortening words. When my parents were first dating, Dad (always ahead of the curve) called Mom "SAM" because those were her maiden initials. An older gentleman in the small town where Dad grew up did not approve: "What did your Dad call your Mom? Mike? Bill? Some man's name. That such a shame because she's such a beautiful lady."

Shortening names makes sense in this TLA culture, but then there are the nicknames that are longer than the person's name. Back in the day, my grandmother renamed my Great Aunt Ben, for example, (whose real name was Magnolia though no one called her that), for the cartoon character "Ben Puttin' It Off." Apparently, procrastination has been inthe family for some time, so I don't know why Dad hassles me about that Roth information. Obviously, procrastination's in my genes, and I have no control over it.

My Aunt Cindy for a while was "Flea Bitten Hound Dog." I don't know why. Later she became "Flea" or "Hound Dog." Many of you know that I call Ann "Ann-a-Plan." In the car one day, I was trying to create an expression that read the same forwards and backwards, like "A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama." Ann likes to make plans, so I started there: Ann a Plan. But backwards that reads Nalp a Nna, so instead I made her name a poem: "Ann-a-Plan; Eat a Bananna; Drink a Cherry Coke." Every now and then I call her "Eat a Bananna" or "Eating Banannas" and we get funny looks in the grocery store. I've never called her "Drink a Cherry Coke". That would be wrong.

We rename people and we name inanimate objects. Mom called her VW Rabbit, "Thumper." My friend Sean introduces his bike as "Heidi." We named a plant in the front yard "Precioussss" from Gollum in The Hobbit.

So back to the question: Why do we name and rename people and things?

Awaiting your wisdom. Mary

1 comment:

  1. Em,
    I rename people when the made-up name seems to reflect who they are to me. I also have a tendency to shorten first names of family members. I have NEVER called my sister Debbie for example, but most others do. She will always be Deb. Or Zooma - short for Mama Zooma, a nickname from her kids.) My brother in law is known as Niur-Niur, after a strange mechanical sound that can be heard at the end of his cell phone announcement message: "You have reached 575 ... niur-niur"

    Further, most all of my instruments have names. Even our cat does not go by her formal name very often, but we do put Miss in front of her initial, she requires the elevation provided by a proper title, I think.


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