Friday, September 11, 2009

Nicknames - the Good, The Bad, and the Evolving.

Ever had a pet name? I don’t mean something you named your pet, but I mean an affectionate little euphemism that someone caring bestows upon you.

Growing up, I had several.

“James” was a common one (believe it or not), often given to me by soccer and softball coaches. Probably because they were more comfortable around little boys than girls, but I didn’t mind it during those seasons. I was never a “girly girl” in obvious ways anyway.

My dad was the KING of crazy nicknames! I think I remember being called “Girn-della and “Smerndy” pretty often.
My mom called me “Sweet Pea”.
Other friends – you know, the ones that are like family because you grew up together – often took variations of my last name (my maiden name) to make them into something silly or derogatory like “Munderbutt,” or “Munderwear,” or “Wonderbutt”.

A blessed few still get away with calling me the Spanish version of my name without getting a slap.
(You thought I was going to share it here, didn’t you? HA! Gotcha!)

As I got more romantically involved, such sweet and playful names as “Honey”, “Angel”, and other such things came out of the lips of those I loved.

I’ve dubbed some men I’ve been romantically interested in as “handsome” or “hun” myself. My ex husband laughed (and rolled his eyes) through many a “Hugglebutt”, but you had to be there (and know us) to find that as funny as we did.

Friends I haven’t heard from in a long time might get a “Hey Stranger”, from me when I answer the phone.

“J” or “Jay” is a nickname born of necessity more than anything else. I tired of people misspelling/pronouncing my name, so the initial just stuck.

I can’t remember who gave it to me first.

All that said, when is a nickname inappropriate? Is it ever?

Relationships, no matter the type, are evolving creatures.

I’ve got a great example.

ComputerGuy and I met in 2006. We got along smashingly, and had considered dating.
When he’d call, he was greeted with a “Hey Handsome!”
Then ComputerGuy and DesignerGirl decided to get together and make a serious go of things.
When I learned that, the “Hey Handsome!” changed to a more respectful “Hey Stranger!” when my phone rings and it’s him.

I’m sure ComputerGuy isn’t even aware of the change, but it seemed natural as the nature of our relationship changed. We’re still friends and DesignerGirl is very sweet. I wouldn’t want ANYONE to get the wrong idea. Opposite gender friendships (when one person isn’t homosexual) can be tricky sometimes as it is, so the evolution of language just seemed to fit. In this case, I would never want to give her the impression that I’m after her man. I want her to feel secure and comfortable with my presence and I want her to get to know me, rather than feeling threatened. Also, in support of ComputerGuy, doing all I can to show respect for his relationship seemed the right thing to do.

Trust is always key, and no silly nickname should destroy it (unless it’s already on a shaking foundation), but what would the world be like if we did all that we could to support our friends’ healthy growing relationships, and received the same in return?


  1. I did thing you were going to tell your full name lol.

  2. Good point and well said, glad you blogged about this. It is a natural part of relationships to have nicknames, but they need to be appropriate and respectful. And, just for my own little bragging rights, I want to add this...(in a sing-song voice) I know your full name, I know your full name. Even the middle one. ;) Love ya sis.

  3. He he he - And Val, you're one of the people that won't get slapped for translating it! :)