Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's in a Name?

Last night, as we watched the results of the political primaries held throughout the state, I asked The Partner if he knew what the name Ned was short for.

"Nedward," he said, with authority.

I hit him close to the kidneys in that loving, wifely way. But it got me thinking about nicknames.

I've gone by the name Binky for as long as I can remember. My mother was signing me up for library story time and doctor's appointments under the Binky appellation long before I had any say in the matter. My given name is nothing that such a nickname could be rationally derived from, but that didn't stop my mother. Rationality was never really a sticking point with her.

In third grade, I was a dorky Binky with a bad home perm (again, I can thank my mom for that) and Coke bottle eye glasses. In seventh grade, I was presidential-hopeful Binky, running on the "Don't Clown Around, Vote for Binky" platform. When I entered high school, I went by my given name on paper, but I was Binky in the halls.

I've found that college students don't generally like to introduce themselves by the name that denotes clowns, baby pacifiers, and tattered Lovies. I was no different. But when my new friends stumbled upon my nickname--as they would, they always would, usually courtesy of my mother, whose reach is apparently good for 500+ miles--it was comforting to hear it used again, an homage to a childhood left behind.

I'm Binky today, and I am reverting back to a carefree, too-young-to-know-better state of mind when it comes to caring what other people think about it. Professionally, I still go by my given name, but even that part of my life is taking a turn for the laissez-faire as I greet each haphazard day with the devil-may-care attitude of a freelance-writing mother blogger.

It's the right name for me, which is something I'm typing right now with a bit of incredulity in my fingers. It is a name I despised at times, was ambivalent about on other occasions, and rarely, if ever, liked. But it's me. And now that I am beginning to understand and appreciate myself in a way I never have, that name--that integral part of anyone's identity--has more meaning and resonance than ever.

So The Partner and I gave our daughter a weird name, too. But to really sock it to her, we put it on her birth certificate so there'd be nothing to fall back on. We think it's distinctive. We think it has character. And in 28 years, maybe she'll thank us.

What's your nickname? What are your children's nicknames? What do those names mean to you?

10 comments:

Michele said...

My nickname varies:

Father calls me "puddin'",which was probably very cute when I was a chubby 6 month old. Not so cute as a fat 38 year old.

Husband calls me "white girl", of all things. It rings of racial overtones but actually refers to my Porcelain (haha) white skin - really.

Nothing cute about either name for me.

My babes are Eamon (which is gaelic for Edmund, also Ned) and he gets called Sweet Baby Eam (Eam rhymes with Aim).
Other baby is Jonas, who gets called Mr.J or Jo-Jo.

Karen said...

I am KK. It followed me to high school, and then to college. I've moved too many times since then for it to take back hold amongst any new friends; now that I have moved home, I find that I am KK once again.

We named my daughter Elisabeth, with the intention of calling her Liesel. She was NOT a Liesel, once we saw her face. She's Lizzy.

When we saw the 12 week untrasound for my son, we thought he looked like a teddy bear. We named him Theodore for the sole purpose of being allowed to call him Teddy. That stuck, unlike the failed Liesel.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I always regretted not having a nickname. They sounded so affectionate and welcoming to me. So of course, after naming my daughters perfectly lovely, formal names, we call them Squidget and Didi.

Mother said...

Sadly, I had none. NOTHING. Zip. Oh how I wished for a nickname.

I suppose that could have bit me in the ass, but I'm still waiting.

Lauren said...

My parents called me Lauren-Lou-Hoo for years because they thought I looked like little Cindy-Lou-Hoo from the Grinch who stole christmas.

Later, my sister shortened it to Lou.

Until my father married a woman with a son named Louis and whenever Lou was called, we'd both turn.

So they shortened it to LJ--my initials.

Jenifer said...

Well, when i was born I was bald.... really. Peach fuzz untill almost 2. They started calling me Baldy Bean, which shortened to Beanie. With a last name of Wilson, this shortly turned into Beanie Weenie Wilson. While not used in school, I have been beanie to family forever.

My daughter is named Paige. She has a few nicknames. My Mom and I mostly just elongate her name my pronouncing the "e" so it sounds like Paig-ee. Her father has taken to calling her Pooh. Which has been shortened form Paige-ee Pooh. Don't know weather it will stick or not.

We have a baby boy due Sept 8th (well anytime now with all the contractions I've been having) but he will be named Cayden Jeremy and I do NOT want him called CJ. I picked cayden because I like the name and jeremy is a tribute to a tragic young loss of a family member so the initials are coincidental. We'll see if anyone tries to start it as a nickname :)

MomInTandyLand said...

I always wanted a nickname. I tried, unsuccessfully, over the years, to come up with one, but no one ever jumped on that bandwagon. Now, though, I'm Mommy (or Mommy T to my two-year-old son), and my husband calls me "Wife." Yes, Wife. His friends think he's nuts. My kids call my sister (Kimberly) Aunt Bimmie, and my youngest calls his older siblings Di-do (Michael) and Babby (Rebekah). Oh, and my daughter refers to me as "Your Majesty" about half the time. I had nothing to do with that... my husband did, though! When my kids were born, family and friends were expressly forbidden to call them Mikey, Becky, or Davey. Two out of three isn't bad, I guess... our youngest is Baby Davey and calls himself Davey. What can you do?

Amy said...

I call Isabella, Lucy. Why? I don't know, but she answers. Brooks has become Brooksie, even the kids a school call him that. He is the smallest (thanks to his Dad's short legs), so most children there want to take care of Brooksie similar to how Owen Meenie was passed around.

Linda said...

Linnie - but only by favored family members. My dearly-loved and long-missed grandfather gave it to me when I was but a toddler living in his house with my Mom and brother while my Dad was overseas. My favorite uncle and one good friend still call me 'Linnie' on occasion and it always gives me a warm feeling so I can handle it.

lildb said...

hi. I'm a seventies cheerleader (or star of a porn film from the great state of Texas, depending on your perspective, or tastes, or -- *shrugs*).

Debbie Lynn.

thanks, mom.

oh. and I decided to own the dorkiness of it during the nineties, when everyone was deserting me for the more sophisticated "Deborah."

I've never claimed to be matoor.