Names. We all have one … or two … or more. And, quite often, many of us are christened with a random assortment of nicknames. Many are quite apt. Others are more bizarre. Trust me, I have my fair share. There are some variations of my name and various nicknames that I have carried with me throughout my life. Nostalgic by nature, I have learned to embrace most of them.
“No orator can top the one who can give good nicknames.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am also notoriously guilty for NEVER calling anyone by their preferred name. I will likely make up a nickname for you … or call you by your full name if everyone else uses a nickname … or use a physical description or personality trait in place of your name … that sort of thing. I have been likened to the character Sawyer on the TV Show ‘LOST’ for our shared passion for the nickname game. My children alone have a multitude of given nicknames (collective and individual). I have mentioned this before but here are a few: Little K, Big K, KitKat, Chubbits, Fatheads, Dudes, Merry & Pippin, Captain Chaos, Big’n, Little’n, Gorgeous, Handsome, Wild Man, Cuddle Butt and Little Tags. That being said, this little ranting of mine may sound a bit on the hypocritical side, but there you have it. Ask me if I care.
There is an individual with whom I work that I am not ecstatically fond of being around. He/She irritates me. He/She irritates a lot of people. He/She thinks that he/she is really funny. He/She is not. He/She is in a position of authority so we say nothing. Nothing! In conversation today this person punctuated a sentence by exclaiming, “Isn’t that right, Beth … Elizabeth …. then with great gusto … LIZ!!??” (Insert any annoyingly appropriate “I think I’m hilarious” chuckle from a person in your life that fits this description here.) He/She was met with a cold silent stare of which, I am told, most individuals do not prefer to be on the receiving end. I think it went unnoticed. Why? Well, because this unnamed individual felt it necessary to continue with said “joke” despite the deafening silence in the room. “Or, is it … Bethany?” he/she said.
Now, I have no problems with being called “Elizabeth”. I have been before. Typically, though, I reserve that moniker for use by my parental units or individuals with whom I am very, very close … or anyone needing to have my name on some sort of legal document. I have friends named “Liz” but I, personally, don’t care to be referred to by said name. “Bethany” takes my displeasure to an entirely different realm. I don’t mind the name … for others. Again, I have several friends with that name; however, I absolutely detest being called “Bethany”. No, that isn’t a strong enough word. Is there a word stronger? Where is my thesaurus? Abhor? Loathe? Despise? Execrate? I think you get the idea. Don’t call me “Bethany”. Just don’t do it. For that matter – “Beth Anne” is out as well. “Anne” is my middle name. I like it, but I hate it when tagged together with the first name. My maternal grandfather called me “Beth Anne” and he was the only person allowed to do so. Sadly, he has passed away. “Beth Anne” should have died with him.
(Yes, I am fully aware that by posting this publicly I am opening the door to millions of you beginning to refer to me as “Bethany” or “Beth Anne” just to raise my hackles. Go ahead. If you don’t do it someone else will.)
I’m sure you are wondering what monikers are allowed? Honestly, you can nickname me pretty much anything. As long as I like you I’ll roll with it. All is well. Here are a few examples of names I have answered to or endured over the years.
“Beth” – My given nickname. My father wanted a Biblical sounding “Elizabeth”. My mother wanted a “Beth”. They compromised … or so I’ve been told.
“Elizabeth” – I may or may not fuss depending on my mood. But, I will answer to it.
“Turner” – My maiden name. Ninety percent of people who attended school with me still call me by this name. It’s all good. I was a jock. Being called by ones surname was a right of passage in the high-school sports world. The full-blown version … “Turner Burner” … has not been used in many a year.
“Taggard”– Post-divorce I kept my married name because my kids asked me to do so. Not to mention, there were a few who already used my last name when attempting to get my attention. The naturally abbreviated “Tag” is also popular on occasion as my ex-husband and his many brothers grew up in this area and that was the nickname of choice.
“Beth-e” – That is a long (ē) sound on the end of my name. It is a Kenyan thing … the penchant for tacking a vowel onto the end of all
“EAT” – Huh? Those are my initials. This is a fun one when people figure it out and start using it.
“Hey you!” – Yep, I’ll answer to that pretty much 100% of the time. Sad, huh?
“Kenya” – People in Kenya did not call me this. Obviously. For many here in the USA, I am the only individual with whom they can associate said country. The nickname seemed logical. I don’t mind. In fact, it’s an honor.
“Smart Ass” – What?
“Kid” – My dad likes to call me this. I don’t get it. You know what though? I answer.
“Mom” – I highly suggest you don’t use this unless I gave birth to you. This rules out all but two people on this planet.
“Babe/Sweetie/Chick/Darlin’” – I do live in the American South. There are many women who get offended by Southern men using such terms as opposed to a given first name. Me? I don’t care. I get called one of these things on a daily basis. It does no good getting my panties in a twist over something so culturally harmless.
“Fluffy” – Mr. Andrews. Graphic Arts Teacher. 11th grade. Rift Valley Academy. It was a reference to my hair at the time. It stuck.
“Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.” ~Thomas C. Haliburton
“Blondie” – My hair (until I had children and my hormones changed) used to be extremely blonde. Inevitably …
“Trouble” – Yep, that’s me.
“Legs” – This one came around in college. I think the reasoning would be quite obvious so I am not going to explain. It hasn’t been used since.
I’ve also been called “The African Queen” & “The Amazon”. There are reasons for such silliness, but those are stories (perhaps) for another day.
Remember me mentioning that we don’t say anything to this person in authority who seems to irritate all of us? Well, I made my preferences regarding my name coolly known today. I hope he/she paid attention. If not, I may be forced to vocalize a few choice nicknames I have picked out for said individual. Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.
Of interest: The Oxford Dictionary of Nicknames.