Friday, September 9, 2011

Calling Ourselves By Another Name

I just had lunch with a largish group of people and met a couple or three people I had never met before. We all had name tags. One very dignified, very well put together woman [maybe the best dressed in the room] had a name tag that revealed her first name is "Fuzzy". We were all teachers in the Academy for Lifelong Learning, nearly all over 60. This woman was 70 or more and, as I said, very well kept. I had seen her name in the course listing and had formed a [you'll excuse the irresistible pun] fuzzy impression of what she might look like. Of course I know that guessing what someone will look like is impossible. She told me, "That's what my father called me the second day of my life." We were interrupted before I could ask what her actual name is.

Most people would have dumped a baby name like that before grade school, and certainly after graduation. Why would a person take a name like that to college? Or like Muffie, Sparky, Bunny, Jimbo, Mags ... I could go on. A high school reunion is upcoming and, the times I've joined these events, I've had difficulty calling Lindalou, Lynn which she used from College on, two Eddie both became Ed, two Bobbies became Bob. That makes perfect sense to me, they grew up, they got rid of the childish diminuative. I think mostly women maintain their nicknames. I hate stereotyping, especially women as a group, and I can say that in the brief time I talked to Fuzzy nothing about her seemed childish, but I think women are [or were in my generation] more inclined to continue the child-like role than were men.

For my part, I've never really had a nickname. My name, in fact, doesn't appeal to me very much and it has seemed not to appeal much to the men in my life. I was more often called Honey or Darling or by my last name. I've never thought I was a June and always wished I were something else, but what? ... well, Honey and Darling were satisfactory, also Mom, Mother, Grandma and Greatgrandma -- although I averred only yesterday that I'd be happy to respond to simple Great. The child to whom I said that only has about 12 words at this point, maybe "The Great" will stick.

2 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- interesting commentary. I found living in the south is that men seem to keep their child-like names as much as women. Billy, Bobby, and Johnny are three examples that I often hear. I think maybe its part of the culture where you happen to live rather than a man/woman phenomenon. Fuzzy is certainly distinctive -- we probably would always remember the person carrying that name. Good post -- barbara

June Calender said...

Thanks, Barbara, yes, I there is a cultural thing, especially in the South. But then here in New England there's a bit of that for women with babyish names like Bunny and Muffy.

I was also surprised when living in NYC to run into women called Honey and Zippy. But then I found out Honey is a very common name for Hannah, and women names Tziphora are called Zippi.