Have you ever learned that you had a secret nickname, the name people attached to your name when you weren’t there to hear it?
Mike came home today and told me that he had run in to an old mountain bike friend whom we hadn’t seen in years. A couple of decades ago, when the Rut Riders were an active, even somewhat notorious bike club, this guy had ridden with the group off and on and had raced on the same circuits that we had. When Mike said that Topoleski had said to tell me hello, I immediately asked, “Wrong-way Topo?” The unfortunate John Topoleski had taken a wrong turn during a mountain bike race (costing him precious seconds) when he was in his twenties. Some thirty years later, he is still known as Wrong-way Topo in circles he has long since forgotten. He is probably unaware that the moniker is still attached to his name.
When I was a young, nubile thing, I used to ride my horse around the neighborhood in shorts and a bikini top. I was a bit nonplussed to learn that my riding companion’s husband referred to me as Judy Jugs. I’d never considered that my pert, little bosom would be worthy of such a nickname.
Much later, in my sixties, my neighbor, having had a wee bit too much to drink, blabbed that her husband and his brother called me Butterface. I couldn’t help but feel just a bit smug at the idea that the preamble to that nickname is, “She has a great body”. I guess a less vain woman would have taken umbrage at the idea that they were disparaging her face, but I chose to dwell on the idea that those beer-bellied, old farts noticed the other well-preserved assets (ie. the still pert jugs).
I imagine that many nicknames are coined in a spirit of just slightly malicious teasing, and one could have hurt feelings about the deliberately mean ones. But I prefer to think that nicknames are usually given to people who are a little admired, a little envied, and overall, well-liked. Okay, maybe I DO have a vainglorious self-image but you have to admit, there’s something endearing in a nickname.
Oops, I forgot that Wrong-way Topo was later murdered. (This alternative truth is added in response to a suggestion from one of my favorite bloggers who commented that my circulation would be improved by more murders in my blog. Thank you, dimebone.)