Monday, August 28, 2017

NICK NAMES ARE ONLY COOL IF . . .

the person to whom you give the nickname likes it, Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell.

In THIS POST that I wrote last week, I chatted about giving nicknames to people. Some of you pointed out in your comments, and they were wise comments, that we have to be careful about nick names (The High Guy who works at Target doesn't know that I think of him as The High Guy and he never will, nor will anyone else know except for all of you out there and Favorite Young Man, and FYM doesn't even know which person I'm talking about because he's never seen The High Guy).

Fundy Blue, a.k.a. Louise of Standing Into Danger (one of my favorite blogs, not that all the rest of you don't also write my favorite blogs), made the following comment:

Funny post, JJ! I admit to occasional mental, not-uttered, nicknames for certain people in my life. And I've been collecting various nicknames for our leader which is hilarious fun. 

As a second and third grade teacher, I had to spend time dealing with conflicts and hurt feelings over nicknames. This age group has a heightened sensitivity of what is fair and what is not. The topic of fairness cropped up all the time. Young kids can be creatively cruel with nick names. So we would have class meetings every year, sometimes multiple times, over the issue of names and nicknames and the fairness of using them. 

The worst brouhaha occurred when one of my white boys whispered to the black girl sitting next to him (during a spelling test) that she had lips swelled up like a pufferfish. So for several days she was "Pufferfish," and what a time I had dealing with the fallout and stamping out the use of that nickname! 

Who would suspect that a science word I added to the spelling test for bonus points could lead to meetings with the principal, the social worker, the psychologist, and outraged parents on both sides of the racial divide, not to mention having to rearrange the seats in my classroom? 

I would always share that I had multiple nicknames when I was a kid based on both Myrtle and Louise, as in variations of "Myrtle the turtle lost her girdle" and "Weasel" and that those and other nicknames I was plagued with really hurt. So there was a lot of emphasis on learning what name each child wished to use and learning its correct spelling.

I don't have a problem with nicknames now, and I [sic] always happy when I get a big hug from my brother and he whispers, "I love you so much, Weasel." LOL


Thank you for sharing this story with us, Louise.  A nickname is never cool if it's shared publicly and it hurts the person who has been given the name. Many of us are already self-conscious enough.



When I was a medical assistant in a doctor's office, the other underlings and I had nicknames for each other. The second medical assistant was Neesie; the x-ray tech was Teeny; the receptionist was San-Pan; and I was June––for June on Leave It To Beaver because I was thought to be the kind of person who would vacuum my house while wearing a dress and high heels. June gradually morphed into Junebug, which is how I became Janie Junebug.

But we also had a second part-time receptionist. I nicknamed her Marge for the police chief in the movie Fargo. I think I called her Marge two or three times before she said, Please don't call me that.

That was the end of that nickname. Never used it again.

And that's the way it should be, unless a nickname is so unkind that it should never be uttered at all. In fact, I should have asked her if it was okay to give her that nickname. That's my policy from now on, unless I don't ever call the person by the nickname.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


46 comments:

  1. Yes.
    I was given a number of nicknames by my family. Which made me cringe, then and now.
    As I admitted, some people do get knicknames from me, but they will never know them. Never ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been the recipient of some variations on my name that I hated.

      Delete
  2. Hi Janie - nicknames can be confusing and in this day and age where everyone's sensibilities are so heightened it must be difficult to work one's way through. There were three Hilary's at school - so we were called by our surnames ... the family call me by my nickname at home ... and through life I've become Hils, Hilly, Hilary - sometimes I forget who calls me which.

    Yes - nick names ... one has to be careful .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very good point Janie. As one who was mercilessly bullied by a few meanies in school because I happened to be fat, nicknames were often cruel. But I do have nicknames that I've been given over the years that I adore: my Mom calls me Bug (and she got a tattoo of a ladybug on her calf in my honor); my Dad always called me Dupey (or Dupe for short) since I was a little kid, and until the day he died he called me that; my brother used to call me Chicken-Pock, for what reason I'll never know. And then some folks just call me by my last name, which I love ("Let's see what Truhlik thinks about this") and my favorite, donned on me by a fellow radio sales rep: "Too-Good-to-Be-Truhlik").

    It's also a good idea not to mention those "secret nicknames" that you have for people in the company of children because you know how kids are: they'll always blurt the nickname out to the person you least want to be aware of it. My Dad was a really good guy and he treated everyone with decency and respect and of course he was loved by many. He worked with a guy who was, back then it was called "slow" and of course my Dad was always very kind and nice to him. Well this guy really liked my Dad and would stop over at our house just out of the blue. always uninvited. He happened to look remarkably like the puppet Howdy Doody. So he'd pull in the driveway and I'd hear my parents say something like this: "Who's here?" "Oh geez, it's Howdy Doody." "Again? What's he doing here now?" And then they'd answer the door and invite him in and offer him a drink and a seat and they'd pleasantly visit for a while. Naturally on one of those occasions, I walked in and blurted out "Hi Howdy Doody!" My parents were so embarrassed and I got the big lecture about how some nicknames were to be kept private because they could be hurtful. Lesson learned.

    Now you know I have a zillion and one nicknames for the nutjob in the White House. Those are fun to come up with! And he gives us so much to work with! We should start to compile a list...

    Have a great week Janie!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I want to yell at the kids who hurt your feelings. I'll shake my finger at them and shout, SHAME ON YOU FOR HURTING OUR NICE FRIEND MICHELE (because I'm really tough with people). As for Howdy Doody, you learned a lesson the hard way. My parents said a lot of things that we kids repeated without knowing any better.

      Delete
  4. In the Virgin Islands I had to commute to school from the island of St. John to the island of St. Thomas so my classmates nicknamed me Bush Woman because I was from St. John and considered to be uncivilized. Back in those days St. John was pretty isolated and St. Thomas was a real hub of activity. They even gave me a theme song, sung to Nowhere Man. "She's a real bush woman living in her bush man house, making all her bush baskets for nobody." Of course, it was pretty mortifying at the time. Now I'm proud of the nickname and when my classmate and I get together we/I can laugh about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you can laugh about it now. If you couldn't, I think it would be understandable.

      Delete
  5. I chose Chubby Chatterbox for my nickname but since I've lost weight I probably should change it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll probably always think of you as The Chubby Chatterbox because it was the first name I learned for you.

      Delete
  6. It's true - there's all the world of difference between an affectionate nickname that is acceptable to the namee, and one meant to belittle or disrespect or hurt. My son was on the receiving end of the latter for a year in junior high and it was very hard on him. His friends called him by a different nickname and that was a source of camaraderie instead. Worlds apart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your poor son. I'm glad he had good friends, though.

      Delete
  7. Any nicknames I make up for people are to help me remember them because I'm so bad at remembering names, but I would never call them by that nickname to anyone else who might know them or to their face. Any nicknames I have called people are approved nicknames because I got them from the actual person.

    I have an annoying tendency to be formal with names. Everyone called my first boyfriend Al in high school and to this day I call him Alan and don't know if I have ever called him Al in 50 years. My BFF in high school, Patricia--I can call her Pat if I am talking right to her but when I mention her to other people she is Patricia. (I still put Patricia on her envelopes but start her letters Dear Pat.) I've never been one to use the nicknames other people use with people at work or wherever. I'm never sure if nicknames (especially descriptive, colorful ones) are really appreciated. They often do not produce a genuine smile from the person, you know?

    I was a defender of the underdog from before I started school. Very aware of how people can hurt each other without ever laying a finger on them--with words...and gestures, looks, snubs...body language.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think being formal with names is annoying. I'm probably annoyingly casual with names.

      Delete
  8. When I was in my early twenties, I briefly worked in a factory which manufactured kitchen knives, paint scrapers, and similar tools and blades. We had an employee named Jim. Everyone called him "Jimbo." They hired another guy, named Tim. Someone started calling him "Timbo," and the nickname stuck. Then an African-American named Sam was hired, and one day, based on "Jimbo" and "Timbo," someone called him "Sambo." Luckily, everyone in the immediate area, including Sam, was mature and cool-headed enough to realize what had happened, and the situation didn't escalate into anger, or worse, violence. But yes, I would definitely agree that you shouldn't give someone a nickname without getting his or her permission first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooooookey doooooookey. That could have led to a big problem.

      Delete
  9. In my 20's I was the buyer of English language books for the CWRU library. The clerk who sat in front of my was named June. She was wonderful, funny, insightful, a mentor. I called her Junebug. She never objected. June had teen aged children, I had a new baby. That was our age difference. I moved on in life and lost track of June. Nearly forty years later I was retired from all past pursuits, and working for my township. In the middle of a sort of tough audit, four or so years ago, my sister's friend, a tragic psychic, was visiting. I walked through the room and the psychic said to me: Junebug says if those auditors give you any trouble, throw all the papers in the air and tell them to pick them up.
    I thanked her and kept on going to my room, where I fell into a chair and thought Oh, No. Junebug has passed on from this world.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't have nicknames for people. I either use their name of the nickname they go by. Like for me, my nickname in real life is Chrissy, so I'm known by that and prefer that to my real name.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In high school I had a cruel nickname, don't ask I will not say what it was but it hurt and made high school more of a nightmare, so I do get this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd never ask what the name was. I'm just sorry it happened to you.

      Delete
  12. I think before we call anyone anything we should ask them what they'd like to be called. I have to say I don't have a nickname or use them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My family has always been big on nicknames, so they're a habit with me.

      Delete
  13. Being a tall and skinny kid, I was called Daddy Longlegs and the Nail in school, by the boys, who at that age were about half my size. I was mad, not hurt, and swore to never have anything to do with boys when I grew up and could decide my own fate. Well, that didn't quite work out..... Seriously though, it must be difficult to be a teacher here, with so many issues to deal with. Growing up in Sweden in the 1940s, I don't think any teacher ever cared about students being bullied and teased. You just had to take it, to learn from it, and/or give back as best you could. At least that's my impression.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think much emphasis was put on stopping bullies when I was growing up, either. We were told to deal with it if we complained, or worse, That means he likes you.

      Delete
  14. If a nickname is used out loud and the person it's being used on is cool with it, that's fine. Otherwise, ditch it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi, Janie! What a delightful surprise to see my comment on nicknames featured in your post! As you can see from all of the responses, people have a lot of strong memories and feelings about nicknames. An interesting topic! Have a good one, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment deserved a wider readership than it would get as a comment on an older post.

      Delete
  16. I only give nicknames to the Square Ones... I will miss calling thehamish figgie pudding this Christmas. He had many nicknames and answered to them all.

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dogs usually have nicknames. The late great smooth collie Faulkner had many and like thehamish, he knew all the names that belonged to him. Franklin is sometimes shortened to Frank, but Penelope can be Penny Pants or Penny Pot or Penny Pie, or just plain Pen.

      Delete
  17. Such an interesting topic. I liked all the comments too.

    ReplyDelete
  18. An astute reader commented on one of my published books, where one character inundates the other with different nicknames throughout, that this is a way of asserting control/superiority over another person. Call it a sort of chummy aggression.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I agree. One friend said she wanted to call me "Short stuff" or something she thought was cute and clever. I said, "No, but you can call me Robyn. I like that best."

    Love ya.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's really not cute or clever, and a nickname based on appearance is seldom a good idea.

      Delete
  20. Nice to know where Janie Junebug came from:)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Replies
    1. I bet that not knowing kept you awake at night.

      Delete
  22. My mother sometimes called me Susabelle, which reminded me of a cow, which meant I wasn't exactly crazy about it. But I'd give anything to hear her call me that again... or anything else she wanted to call me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mother used to call me "you little shit." I don't particularly want to hear that again.

      Delete
    2. HA! That sounds more like my father's idea of a nickname.

      Delete

Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.