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?
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.