Wednesday, 14 April 2010

In which I contemplate what's in a name

Not having a Christian name that’s easily given to diminution, other than by a childhood friend’s Mexican mother who stuck ‘ita’ on the end of everything, I’ve never really been one for the nicknames. The closest I’ve come was Long Term Ex insisting on chopping my name in half, but he was the only person ever to have got away with it; and Old Friend calling me “Miss Blonde” when he answers my calls, which is oddly intimate in a formal sort of way.

But over the past couple of years, there does seem to have been a vast increase amongst my friends in the use of diminutive terms of endearment for each other.

For my part, I’ve clearly been swallowed wholeheartedly into the PR bubble.

“Did you just call me love?” Best Mate said on the phone the other day, her tone the one reserved specially for unreliable workmen and her horse when he’s being daft.

“Yikes. Sorry about that. Clearly talking to too many fashion journos these days.” (Who, just as an aside, come in two flavours: the sweetest people on the planet vs. those with such an over-inflated sense of their own self-importance you want to bash them over the head with a sandal boot and tell them it’s a bloody fashion spread, not a Pulitzer-winning piece of prose that’ll change the face of investigative journalism. Both types also constitute the only people in the world who sign off their professional emails with kisses.)

And I'm not the only one who's adopted shorthand rather than actually using names.

Speckled Lad often addresses me as “lovely”, whether verbally or in writing; although sweet, it isn’t really accurate.

When I'm not trying to piss her off, I call Best Mate by her first initial - something I picked up from spending an inordinate amount of time with her family (to her father, I’m “the other daughter”).

Long Term Ex’s mother is, and always has been, fond of “Blonde, darling”, but that’s what hailing from very grand families and finishing school in Switzerland will do for you.

Minor Celeb was a "babe" man - yuck.

Sports Nut was a fan of “trouble”, which is probably accurate, and “treacle”, which literally isn't.

Game Boy is the only person I've ever known to call me "lass", but only in writing, which is probably wise: given his decidedly un-Northern accent, I don't know that he'd be able to pull it off in speech.

And Guards Man, in his bizarre and inimitable way, calls everyone - male, female, old friend, new acquaintance (though hopefully not his commanding officer) - “Big Man”. Weird, but it works for him.

I'm not sure what sort of person all these monikers, taken together, suggest that I am. It's probably best not to think about it too deeply. But so long as it's not the type of person who ends all their emails with multiple kisses, I'm probably not too bothered.


jman said...

Or your blog posts. And as for Speckled Lad, whatever his shortcomings, his term of endearment for you strikes me as being 100% accurate!

Blue soup said...

I think names are really important. My name is part of who I am. I hvae had a lot of nicknames over the years and only one has ever sat with me in a way that I have been comfortable.

As an aside, TD calls me Ugly and Snailface. What does that tell you? ;) I'd rather be lovely any day! :)

theperpetualspiral said...

Different people have different nicknames and shortened versions of my name. And only my mum calls me by my full name, which even at 33 strikes the fear of god in me.


roseski said...

See, not even my mother calls me by my full name; she wanted to call me rosie but my father said it wasn't a "real" name and so I was christened Rosemary. Gah. Noone likes Rosemary!

Too much time with the army has resulted in me being known by my surname, which is then shortened and added to until my nicknames bear no resemblance to my actual name. Especially when someone discovered the link between my surname an the Spanish word for "suck it" - army boys are hilarious...

nuttycow said...

Hang on B - I end emails with multiple kisses.

Whatcha trying to say, eh?


Fluffy Pink Duck said...

I loathe "babe" as well and I really hate "babes"

I don't mind kisses at the end of informal emails but what really gets my wick is "hugs" especially if the sender barely knows me

Emily said...

Good post. I detest when people who don't know me well (colleagues, new acquaintances) call me by a nickname. It seems too familiar. And the workplace is no place for kisses...unless it's your hot client. :-)

Blonde said...

Jman: That's very sweet of you. Probably wrong, but sweet.

Soup: Heh - that you respond to teasing far better than I do!

TPS: We'll ignore that, shall we?

Roseski: They are a special breed, aren't they? Although I think I'd prefer my surname to "Ma'am".

NC: Not to me you don't. Should I be offended?

FPD: 'Babe' is just repulsive, isn't it? Such a lack of imagination.

Emily: Oooh, no - I think encouragement isn't to be encouraged!

Elle said...

I'm glad to read it's not just me who uses Treacle!

Names are a tricky one. My name isn't actually Elle (it's a shortening of my middle name), but I feel more like an Elle than I do a Claire.

I don't really mind what people call me, but I do agree that 'babe' is yuck. I also can't stand 'poppet' - horrible!

P said...

I tend to get called P a lot. (Which was not actually why I chose it for my name here). By lots of unrelated people. My mum used to call me Big P when I was younger. Which does not sound flattering AT ALL!

HC said...

Very guilty of producing random semi-insulting nicks for the wife. I'm positive she secretly likes it despite her protestations. Spudge and s*xface this week, fonzi and bungalow last week. It's lucky she knows I love her.

Hamish said...

Surely with your history somebody has come up with "Hello Hen" ?

PS. I suspect my use of the word "Ratbag" might not be well received at Blonde Towers......

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