Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nicknames

May 14, 2011

The other day I was filling in an online application and for security sake they ask you to answer a particular question as an identifier that you, the user, are who you say you are. The questions are like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is/was your nickname”? So I was going to go with the nickname thing, but then I wondered which one would I use?
I guess the very first nickname given to me was by my oldest sister Betty (short for Elizabeth) when she named me “Pinky”. I know, I know, never mind, I was a baby! Boy am I glad that one didn’t stick! Anyway, later on, when I was carrying about 125 lbs on my 6’3” frame a buddy of mine named me “Bennie the Bonerack” and the Bennie/Ben part stuck with me for a long time within a certain circle of friends. But the one nickname that I’ve had the longest was just a shortening of my last name from Hubbard to Hubb.
I’m not sure if it was a sports or a hockey thing but many of my sports playing friend’s nicknames were derived in the same way-just a shortening of the last name. Jerry Wasnik was Waz or Wazzy; Jim Welykochy was Welo and Rick Metzler was Metz, or to be correct, it was actually “The Amazing New York Metz”.
A lot of other nicknames are given by adding a “y” or “ie” or an “o” to a name to give someone a nickname like Sproaty or Jonesy or Deano.
A few years ago I had worked at Don “Bronco” Horvath’s lumberyard in Wawota. Wawota, like many small towns, gives a nickname to everybody and although I worked there for nearly a year I don’t think I could name many of the locals by their actual given names. I knew Twiggy and Soupy and Coyote and Radar and Hawk but I’d be hard pressed to come up with their real names.
It’s not so different here in Kipling, though. I recall stopping in at one of the local watering holes and taking a chair at a table with Gooch, Gub, Goose and Junior.
In Canada, with our diverse ethnic backgounds, (around Kipling it’s usually something Hungarian), a nickname can come from a word in the old tongue like “Kakas” (pronounced something like kaukaush, if that helps) which, in English, means cock, as in rooster. Then there’s the old country name translation thing like Pista (peeshta), which is Hungarian for anyone name Steve.
Some given first names have many different variations like Rich, Ritchie, Rick, Dick or Dickie for Richard or Will or Willy, Bill or Billy for William. In my family alone we’ve got a Jack for John, Betty for Elizabeth, Dot for Dorothy, Margo for Marguerite, Jeannie for Mary Jeanne, Gordie, Gord or Gordo for Gordon and Shelly for Michelle. I think Judy and I were the only ones that went by their actual given names most of the time. Actually, for the first six years of my life I thought my name was “Stop That!”- Ba-dum-DUM-TSH!
Today, many kids use their peer’s last name as their nickname-like Kish or Vargo or Kertai- which, if you are a regular reader of this column you’ll know my feelings on that subject, (see In My Humble Opinion-March 18th edition of The Citizen), which, to me, not only shows a lack of respect but little imagination also. Mind you, Hubb, Waz and Metz aren’t stretching the imagination by any means, either.
The following are a sampling of the nicknames of some of the people that I have come to know in my lifetime. If your inquiring mind needs to know, and you don’t know who the following are, you can contact me for their real names if necessary. In my time I have known a Schlaps, Spy, Smoothy, Moose, Orca, Scrag, Poots, Turk, Nellie, Zipper, Muck, Doc, Roter, Hopper, Gonzo, Birdie, Viggy, Bugsy, Mo (more than one), Bubba, Crow, Koochy, Zuggs, T-Bone, Pepitone…
“Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.”-Thomas C. Haliburton (1798-1865).

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