As a very young boy I had a pal named Nicholas.  He prefered to be called by his formal, proper name.  He liked that his name was the same as that of Saint Nicholas.  The trouble is, that most of us other kids called him Nick.  He used to be infuriated about the word “Nick” until he heard a holiday song lyric mention “ol’ Saint Nick”.  Then Nicholas was happy to be called Nick. 

It was at that same time that I was told that Nick is simply the nickname for Nicholas.  In my young mind, I equated Nick and nickname.  If you were lucky enough to have a nickname you would be called Nick.  I sorely wished to fit in and earn my own nickname.  But nobody ever called me Nick.  Not people who knew me well like my parents or siblings nor best pals.   None of them ever called me Nick.  I repeatedly asked people to use my nickname when they wanted to talk to me.  Still, nobody called me Nick.

Finally, dad figured out that I had the wrong concept about the term “nickname”.  He told me that my close family and friends have been calling me by my nicknames all along.  He told me that when my little pals called out, “Hey Red!” they were using a nickname.  I didn’t especially like it, but, like my hair color, I was stuck with it.  My attitude about that nickname changed when I found out about the comedian named Red Skelton.  He used his name to distinguish his fame, so I guessed I’d be OK with Red, too.

As I got older, different categories of people had their own nicknames for me.  The bullies called me “Jimmyjet” or “Carrot Top”. My teachers and the kids who only knew me marginally, called me “JJ”.  My pals continued to call me “Red”.

My pals were called Johnny, Pat, Andy, Dick, Bobby and Al.  My little brother was called “Marky” by our grandparents, his formal name of Mark was used by everyone else except me, I called him “Markus”.

Some of my female friends’ nicknames were Stace, Trace, Sammy, Annie, and Bobbi.  If Bobby and Bobbi were in the same room together, confusion sometimes came into play.  Then we just yelled “Bobby Boy” or “Bobbi Girl”. 

I can think of a few Presidential nicknames.  Honest Abe, Ike, Tricky Dick, Bubba, and Shrub.  Shrub liked to use nicknames a lot.  He called his Vice President “Turdblossom”.

Sometimes a nickname is used for a certain type of person.  “Moneybags” might be a rich gal.  Sparky refers to somebody like an electrician or engineer.  “Bones” or “Doc” refers to a physician.  Then there’s “Genius” or “Einstein” often used in disrespect for somebody not very intelligent. “Shorty” is self-evident.

I like some of the nicknames for cities. Some are self promotional names and others just stuck.  Nashville is known as “Music City”.  Alternately it’s “Athens of the South” which I used to think was a city in Georgia, but I guess not. Nashville is also allegedly “Minneapolis of the South” and “The Protestant Vatican”.

New York City has several nicknames, among them are “The Big Apple”, “Hymie Town”, Gotham City, and Capitol of the World. San Francisco has many nicknames. Midwesterners say “Frisco”, the locals say “The City”.  There’s “San Fran”, City by the Bay, Baghdad by the Bay, LGBTQ folks say, “Boys’ Town”, then there’s “Golden Gate City”, and Fog City.

A hundred years or more ago, some folks had classy nicknames.  Some lady names included Cassie, Etta, Fanny, Lecta, Kizzie, Lizzie, Theny, and Zubia (for Azubah).  Some guys were called, “Bat”, Cuddy, “Dob or Dobbin” for Robert, Finney, Gus, Jude, “Kiah” for Hezekiah, “Tiah” for Azariah and “Zack” for Zachariah.

Now our nicknames are often our screen names.  These are nicknames we can choose for ourselves.  You’ll find monikers like “Phat T”, “Punker Chick”, “FuNKy MoNKey”, “Star Dude”, some arcane names like “JV@nRo+{” or “Oun Som Ped”, I rather like mine, “swabby429”.


The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders about some of your favorite nicknames, or yours.  Use the comments box, below.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Friendship, Meanderings, Youth and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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