Funny the way people get nicknames. It is said that Earvin “Magic” Johnson got his nickname from the way he handled a basketball. Another guy I knew has the nickname “Birdie.” I am told he got that name because he was an avid hand glider.
When I was a kid my best friend’s name was Lawrence. No one called him Larry, which I guess is the common nickname for Lawrence, but everybody called him “Skip.” I have known more people named “Skip” than any other nickname I know.
I had a cousin named Paul. Just like my name. Everyone called him Skip. Then he had a son who they named Paul, but everyone called him Skip also. Then that Skip (Paul) had a son whose real name was Paul and they called him Skip too. It just don’t figure, but I guess if you can’t think of a different first name it’s not likely you’d come up with a different nickname.
I’ve had some strange nicknames in my day. In fact all of mine were a little weird except the one I didn’t like and the reason I didn’t like it was because it was true.
Growing up the natives had a nickname for me. They never called me it when talking about me to my parents or other missionaries, but used it when talking about me among themselves and to me. My native nickname was, “Mbekede.” The closest translation of “Mbekede” would be “Smartass.” I kind of liked that name.
I came to the United States when I was 15 and got introduced to a bunch of food I had never tasted growing up in the Congo. I discovered such things as potato chips, Baby Ruth candy bars (the 1/2 pound size) in abundance, and Coca-Cola. Those foods had a direct influence on me and the next thing I knew I had the nickname of “Fatso.” Sure didn’t like that nickname, but I had earned it.
But I lost that excess weight and went in the Navy and I got another nickname, “Postage.” Sometimes it was, “Hey, Post office,” but usually it was, “Hey, Postage…” That came about because at muster, or for a work detail they called you out by the last name and the initial of the first name. Obviously if my name; Stam. P. was said real fast, or if there was a typo on the roster sheet it came out – Stamp. Got out of the Navy and was never called “Postage” again.
Then for years; through college, with all kinds of jobs such as teaching, or construction work or sailing, I was simply Paul. Now suddenly, just because I put my website address on the bottom of all my potter instead of my name, people around the studio are calling me “WW.” They don’t even make it “WWW” but I guess some nicknames are shortened versions of the real name like “Sal” for Sally or Salvatore.
So, what’s in a name anyway?
View the video here.
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