It Ain't What They Call You, It's What You Answer To

I have a short name, four letters, one syllable, easy to roll off your tongue. Gail. But I’ve been called a lot of things through the years. My two brothers and my father had nicknames for me, which I won’t mention because the Facebook police might lock me up. I think I am already on their list because one of my recent Facebook posts attracted their attention and they warned me that if I mentioned it again, they might abscond with my computer or ban me from Facebook. Woe is me.

I currently have two nicknames, Honey Bunny and Dame Wrinkly, which lie at opposite ends of the nickname spectrum, soft and cute versus old with wrinkles and crinkles. They both make me laugh but my kids just shake their heads, not at the Dame Wrinkly one because they’ve had similar or worse names for me for a long time, they just didn’t know that I knew. The Honey Bunny moniker puzzles them though.

I took a college sociology class one time that discussed how names of new items were derived, specifically cars. (Remember this was in the 1960s.) At that time there were strong masculine car names: Mustang, Impala, Jaguar, Barracuda, Firebird. Whew, those were names, powerful, fast, and sleek and people knew the cars would meet the symbolism of the name. My dream was to own a Mustang like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, but my father suggested an Opel Kadet (look it up and you’ll realize that I never got close to my dream!). Tom owned a Firebird but quickly moved to a station wagon when babies started arriving. My instructor pointed out the importance of naming things and people correctly. As far as I know, no cars have been named the Sloth, Worm, or even Crocodile, which is a fast and powerful critter, although not sleek. The Volkswagen Beetle or Bug was an exception to the rule.

But in the 2020s, car names seem to be numbers and letters, like the F-150, Z-111, CR-V, RAV4, or CXS. It seems important to have consonants, like “F”, “V”, “X”, or “Z” in the name, but I don’t know why. I don’t have a car gene, the one that understands and appreciates vehicles, past or present. I don’t know what the letters and numbers mean, can’t tell if they are powerful or wimpy, a hybrid or gasoline powered, fire-engine red or pearly white. I have a good car that starts when I need it to and gets me safely to my destination.

I have a friend who said if he ever had kids, which lucky for them, he didn’t, swore he would name them with random numerals. It was the only logical way to make children totally unique, he said, and it would drive government agencies like social security and schools crazy. Names and nicknames are important, and it’s fun to toy with them. Gail, Honey Bunny, Dame Wrinkly all work for me, but no slow-moving animals or random numerals please.

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