One of our numerous* commentators had a question on the recent post where I talked about remaning Hyper Lad and re-renaming Sarcasmo. She wanted to know why everyone else in the family had a nickname, but I don’t. Although, what I just wrote isn’t a question, is it? More of a statement, but the question comes through, I think.
The reason is simple really: I am my grandfather’s grandson.
My grandfather was Richard Jr. By the time I came along, there were four of us Richards running around and, I guess, he decided we needed to be known by different names so as to avoid confusion. I mean, I can’t tell you the number of times someone called “Richard” and I goo-ed and farted and drooled. Okay, that probably wasn’t the reason, but it’s good enough.
The problem, though, was that his practice of giving out nicknames just sort of spread out from there. And he had a lot more victims friends on which to bestow nicknames during the last decade or so of his life.
See, my grandfather used to coach football for the University of Florida Gators. He retired from that life and went into public service and then retired from that. And then he started hanging around the Gator practice fields to watch the team practice. After a while, he became a sort of institution there and then was pressed into actual service.
If you wanted to get into the practice field, you had to pass my grandfather. He was the gate guard for the practice field and, in fact, still has a small shelter with a plaque dedicating it to him set up at the entrance. Yeah, he was there for a while. And almost every single player who walked through those gates got renamed by my grandfather.
Think about that for a little bit. There are, what?, 80 players on a college football team on scholarship? More walk-ons. And almost all of them got nicknames. Every year more players. Every year more nicknames. And the amazing thing is he remembered them all. At his memorial service, I had a number of very large men come up to me and introduce themselves as Palatka, or Salami Sandwich or somesuch. It was a wonderful experience, laying my grandfather to rest among so many people who loved him like we did.
But I digress.
See, the thing is that he also nicknamed our family members. I’ve got a cousin nicknamed variously Bridge or Goose. My sister is Missie Moto and I was called Mr. Moto, named after some wrestler, long vanished down the memory hole. He also started nicknaming the grandchildren.
And then he died and the practice stopped.
Until, for some reason, nicknames started popping out of my mouth. It seemed like I was channeling the old man, but, thankfully, I’ve had no urge to saddle myself with any more nicknames.**
I’ve really sort of enjoyed the experience, but I know I’ll never live up to the master. After all, he is the one who bestowed the ultimate nickname on my cousin. She’s a lovely woman, who’s last name is Christian. Her nickname? Ima.
**After all, I’ve already got Hey, You, Dummy, Baldy, the obnoxious guy over there by the punch bowl, and assorted others.
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