My Next Doom: Nicknames

I have to start this with a bit of found-humor, and I hope you’ll forgive me for that. I was looking at the sorry state of my investment portfolio (that cheese un-slicer company was a fiasco) when I barely noticed something that looked too much like an advertisement to read. Then I thought about what it said, but I’d already clicked away from that page, so I went clicking back and forth on the site time after time until finally the ad-like structure came up again. Then I clicked past because I forgot what I was looking for, and finally stopped when I got back to this again after figuring I’d have to give up and just tell you about it.

I never before considered nicknaming my bank account. I think it’s because I generally don’t come by nicknames naturally. I wouldn’t presume to shorten someone’s name, and if someone told me to call them by a nickname I’d wait for them to tell me a couple times, making sure they really mean it, and after that feel so awkward about taking a shortcut to their name that when I see them coming I’ll dive out the window into the brambling thistle bushes directly. This makes them think they don’t really need me in their circle of friends, and nobody has to speak to anyone again.

This can be horrible, especially around people who’re nickname-comfortable, like about 99 percent of the current population, that doesn’t even want to be called a population but wants to be called “pops” instead. Do you know how many times I’ve had a conversation run just like this? I mean this:

NEW ACQUAINTANCE: Hey, great to know you, thanks. Call me Billy Bob.
ME: Pleased to meet you? Er … no, no, I couldn’t begin to call you that.
WILLIAM ROBERT: Please, everybody does. Billy at least.
ME: I’m still not … I’m sorry, I don’t think I can.
WILLm R: Bill?
[ I look at him uncertainly. ]
ME: Do you think it’d irreversibly hurt our relationship if I thought of you as “Guillaume” possibly?
HIM: Gil?
ME: Can I try meeting you again only you be someone else this time?

This actually turns out to be a successful strategy, since by starting from the extremely distressed point I do, we’re able to compromise on my knowing him as “Will”, which is just about comfortable. I’ve had exactly that same conversation fourteen times in the past five years, and I don’t know what’s going to happen if I ever have to meet a “Mikey”, and I occasionally bolt upright in the middle of the night, sweating and panicked, as my subconscious imagined my meeting someone named “Chip”.

Now I’m stuck thinking how I might nickname a bank account. I don’t suppose it’s likely to come up and say, “Hey, call me Bill, please”, or whatever its nickname ought to be. (Me: “No.”) (“Hey, call me Please, bill.”) (“I’m not feeling that.”) (“Bill, please call Hay, me.”) If it were going to, it probably would’ve when we first met. You can’t know somebody for years and suddenly tell them to use a nickname. It comes out two and one-third percent more awkward that way, and I’m already a bundle of awkward moments, most of them based on the amount of thought I put into how to place silverware into the dishwasher.

So then I have to just assign these accounts some names. “Checking Account” I guess could be nicknamed “Check”, at which point I’m pretty sure whatever division of the police is responsible for Making Nicknames That Actually Work will descend and throw me deep into Bad Nickname Jail, or as it’s known to the inmates, “Bad Nickname Jail”. I don’t see any way out of it and I just hope people write to me while I’m doing what they call “time”.

There’s a flip side, of course. I like my name “Joseph” as it is, but there’s no avoiding its being turned into “Joe” or “Joey”. I can’t even start from a less-nicknamey version of Joseph and compromise on that. I’d have to make up a version of my name that could sound less informal (“Josellaume”?) and compromise on what I want, and that would of course be a nickname.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

6 thoughts on “My Next Doom: Nicknames”

  1. I suppose this is a terrible time to mention that for a small number of people, mostly SinaiMUCKers, ‘Chiaroscuro’ became ‘Chipper’ and thenceforth to ‘Chip’.

    You’re ingrained to C.L. by now though.


    1. Yes, and think what I might have to know you as if I hadn’t met you during that fourteen-minute stretch you were introducing yourself as C.L.!

      (I’m not actually opposed to nicknames, I just haven’t got the easy knack for them that normal people have.)


  2. Jotholomew, I have noticeable anxiety when it comes to names. That’s why I cut people large amounts of slack, when they can’t remember mine. If I could name my checking account though, I would call it “empty.”

    Teller: Where would you like this deposited, sir?
    Me: In the “empty” account, please.


    1. I like that. I might use the nickname when the house repairs are done and I can look at the account without whimpering again. (That’ll be a year or two.) The Corvid Checking Account … mm …


    1. I appreciate the thought but I assure you, I have never felt at ease in any social setting. There’s just times I feel like enough is going on it’s all right that I’m in over my head.


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