This week's question from Karen:
Weekend Assignment #229: Tell us about a nickname - yours, or someone else's. Did you come up with it, or was it bestowed by someone else? Is it still in use? And most of all, has it benefited the nicknamed person, or caused them grief, or both?
Extra Credit: Have you ever tried for a nickname that just didn't take off?
Karen notes in her own Assignment that "(I came to the conclusion that) nicknames are bestowed, not self-assigned," and I think she's right. I haven't been terribly fond of some of the nicknames bestowed on me during my lifetime, though, to be honest.
My parents gave me a very long name, particularly when you consider what a small child I was (even by small-child standards), and they always called me by that name in full. (You knew you were in trouble with my mom when she yelled out your first, middle, and last name.) The only one in my immediate family that was regularly called by a shortened name or nickname was my dad.
But outside the house, the smallest kid in the class was frequently addressed as "Midge" or "Munchkin," and let's not forget "Four-Eyes." None of these are names one really wants to embrace.
When my family moved from Connecticut to Florida when I was in middle school, it seemed that I met more people who were stumped by how to pronounce my name. I'm not sure why, given its similarity to the name of the state we lived in, but I was frequently asked by people if they could call me "Flo" instead. For the first two years of high school, I gave in...and then I took a stand.
Do you happen to remember the TV sitcom Alice? It was fairly popular during my middle- and high-school years, and you may also remember another character from the show...Flo.
I decided I didn't want to be associated with a mouthy, gum-chewing, brassy redhead best known for telling people to "kiss (her) grits," and so I put the kibosh on "Flo." She and I just had nothing in common. There's a handful of people from the brief period when I did not object to the nickname whom I've never been able to re-train, but no one new has addressed me as "Flo" for at least 25 years - unless it was an inadvertent mistake, and I will politely but firmly set them straight. (It happened in the comments on one of my blog posts here last week, actually, but the person was nice enough to apologize for it on Twitter later that day.)
During my college years, after I'd put "Flo" to rest, someone in my family decided I needed a nickname after all, and my sister christened me "Nina." It derived from her pronunciation of my name as "Ninna" and then "For-ninna" when she was learning to talk, and so we've built family legend around it, but it honestly never was a childhood nickname. However, it is one diminutive that I actually do like, even though no one but my sister has ever really made much use of it. Her sons do call me "Aunt Nina," though, and I hope they will for many more years to come. My boss, who is a pretty nice guy but has a frat-boy tendency to nickname almost everyone, occasionally calls me "Flor;" I don't mind that one, but I don't like the fact that it sounds like the what we call the surface we walk on.
I've never really been one to assign nicknames myself - except to my dog. She has at least a dozen of them.
I once tried to get "Effie" going as a nickname for myself - based on my initials F.E. - but I didn't really get any takers. I'd still be open to that one, but I'm just not going to go with the Flo.
Do you have a nickname, or are you the one who gives out nicknames to everyone else? What's your favorite nickname, and has anyone ever tried to give you one you just can't stand? (Nothing unprintable, please!)