bad parents, Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Puff, death by electrocution, El Guapo, Frogboy, humiliating nicknames, I'm talking about you Stretch!, Keebler, My Name Is Earl, Sac-Licker, Sparky, Steve Wooster, Tardsie's True-Ass Tales, Tyrrell Laiblin
Nicknames are funny things. Sometimes they’re temporary appellations which last–thankfully–only as long as the school day. Others are permanent, evidenced by pruny octogenarians with ridiculous names like Cookie or Skip. Often these sobriquets are bestowed affectionately by friends, family members and classmates. Just as frequently, these same people inflict upon their victims a moniker which serves not only to grind down their self-esteem as indefatigably as waves crashing against a beach, but also one which follows them all the way to their bitter and unlamented graves, hovering about them like a bad stink.
That some appellations fit so magically to specific individuals is surely one of the unrecognized beauties of the natural world. I have spoken in these pages previously of the spastic and afflicted Frogboy. He is but one of the many nicknamed characters to have crossed my path, including such delightfully named characters as the Fly; Bladder Girl; ‘Lil Apu; Easy Dana; Far-Side Freddy; Beerslut; Wigga & Little Wigga; Mexican Bush Chick (Any guesses as to how she got that name?); the Troll; Baby Reinhard; Blowjob Paige, not to be confused with Blowjob Holly; the Muppet; Crooked Katie, Zitty & Fatty (they were sisters); Rockstar & the Weasel; Dr. Knob; Sideshow Bob, who was also known as Puff; Cool-Whip Boy, Partyball; Poodlegirl and too many others to list. It beats memorizing a bunch of real names.
Nicknames sometimes attach themselves to someone simply because they’re so damn appropriate–like my buddy, Keebler. Damned if the guy doesn’t look like a happy little forest sprite with a mad jones for soft-batch. Upon meeting his wife, folks often mistakenly address her as “Mrs. Keebler,” believing that to be correct. Other people choose nicknames for entirely different reason, like my friend Nickname Withheld, whose physical-characteristic based nickname helps those close to him forget that his first name is Earl.
Some nicknames are not politically correct. Back in my lifeguard days, we had a mouthy kid who’d come to the pool. He had attitude, but he was fun, and he took to calling a lifeguard named Jimmy ‘Cap’n Crunch.” Believing turnabout is fair play, Jimmy called the kid (who was African-American) ‘Cocoa Puff,’ and the name stuck. Now this is the kind of thing that gets people fired today, but fortunately for Jimmy, Cocoa Puff knew the difference between laughing with and laughing at.
And sometimes, the difference between being saddled with an awful nickname and having it fade into obscurity depends entirely upon your reaction. Witness the entirely dissimilar experiences of my college friends Tyrrell and Steve.
Upon hearing the story that follows, it would be easy to assume that Tyrrell Laiblin is a ‘special person,’ who, if not by now asphyxiated after swallowing his own tongue, must surely live in some kind of assisted living facility where dangerous objects like scissors and pencils are kept in a special cabinet to which only the Day-Nurse has the key. In fact, today Tyrrell is living independently, employed and even the father of two children by his lovely wife, whom, one assumes, he blackmailed into marrying him. That Tyrrell is today able to live among normals is probably more a result of fortune favoring the undeserving and of our college’s anemic electrical grid than anything else.
The crux of the tale is this: Despite my repeated insistence, Tyrrell refused to believe that an electrical current ran through a phone jack, and was so convinced of this that he (folks, it’s hard for me to write these words without laughing) decided to prove it by touching the male end of the phone cord to his tongue while the other end was still connected to the socket. Unlike poor Tyrrell, I’m sure you already know what happened.
By the time Tyrrell had picked himself up off the floor, we were already calling him ‘Sparky.’ It only lasted about a day, however. He took it with a begrudging grace that knocked most of the fun out of the nickname, and since it didn’t fit him faded quickly into obscurity, resisting the one or two half-hearted attempts to revive it.
Steve Wooster, on the other hand, managed simply through his reaction, to cling to an ugly nickname he didn’t deserve. One day, in tossing around the random cruelties attendant with the friendship of young men, someone called Steve ‘Sac-Licker’ (as in, he licks testicles). This was said in the playful manner that so often accompanies epithets like asshole, fuckface or cum-bubble, any of which Steve would have simply shrugged off. But perhaps because he didn’t quite know what it meant–just that it was bad–Steve reacted poorly. And by poorly, I mean he flipped his fucking lid and demanded–demanded–that we not call him ‘Sac-Licker.’ And so of course, a nickname was born.
If we have to pull a lesson from all of this, it’s this: Don’t have friends.
My sons would have no problem with the nickname “Sac-Licker,” although they seem to prefer the tamer “ball-looker” when referring to each other. Or the ever popular “ball-sack.” I’ve yet to understand men’s fascination with their own private parts, but given it seems to last their entire lifetimes, I’ve given up trying to figure it out. Sometimes I just sit back at the dinner table in stunned silence, as my two sons (and yes, their father) engage in penis and testicle verbal warfare. With of course, a few references to the anus thrown in for good measure. The Y chromosome is indeed a mystery. It’s probably a good thing it carries far fewer genes than the X…
You’re experiencing what my will be my wife’s lot in life in just a few years. She grew up in a primarily female household, and now lives with four dudes. She’s a trooper, though. Last night my middle boy (one of the twins) brought her a snail (he likes to poke their eyes), and she took it in stride.
I informed my boys at a young age that they were never, under any circumstances, to bring me snakes, frogs, lizards, or any other slimy creatures. So far, they’ve kept their end of the bargain.
During their teenage years, my son and his little friends referred to each other as “bitch” or “queer.” Assuming they were straight men, I never understood why they would call each other these names. I mean, I never called my female friends “dyke” or “butch,” because I never had that kind of death wish.
And yet another mystery housed in the Y chromosome…
Clearly the boy is a man after my own heart.
Madame Weebles said:
Nicknames really do seem to be more of a male-domain thing. Chicks don’t tend to give each other nicknames—at least, not to their faces, anyway. For girls it’s all done behind the scenes. In college there was a girl we called “the Village Bicycle” for reasons I’m sure you can gather. We referred to her as “the Bike” for short. She never knew it.
I’ve never heard that before, but ‘the Village Bicycle’ is so fucking sublime. You don’t even have to think about why–’cause everyone gets a ride.
Too brilliant. And, I say not at all facetiously, that I wish I had had the opportunity to know that young lady during my college days.
Madame Weebles said:
And trust me, you would have gotten to know her quite well indeed.
I keep everything Biblical.
Everybody gets a ride. 🙂 Well, do what you can, and try to do it well.
Came accross your blog today — pure genius and hysterical. Thank you for my Monday laugh!
You’re more than welcome–thanks for the very nice words!
Don’t be such a “sissy la-la boy,” or “candy-ass” or even sounding like a “pansy boy.” 😀
I can’t help it! That nickname had an effect on me!
This was so funny, Gigantor! You out did yourself. (Loved Guap’s pic) I grew up with a Louisa…we called her Weezy, which wasn’t so bad…but – then we called her Greasy Weezy – she didn’t like that too much…(we did stop at least to her face) Also, I had a guy friend who just struck me one day as looking like a Catfish…so I told him so – 30 years later – folks still call him Catfish..(he hates my guts, too because of it…oh well, he was a jerk anyway).
Poor Greasy Weezy! At least she didn’t have to hear it.
But Catfish is classic! Okay, I’d be a little pissed at you when you first called me that, but after 30 years, I think I’d be kinda proud of it. Like Catfish Hunter, the hall-of-famer!
You Southerners & your nicknames. I’ll bet you knew somebody named “Hound Dog.” Am I right?
And who told you my nickname was Gigantor? Well, I guess it’s pretty famous …
Ha! I know NO Hound Dogs…(it surprised me, too)
Poor Catfish…we were kids sitting around kinda doing the Cheech n Chong thing…(ssshhh) and I just kinda said it…and all the guys started laughing…and then it just stuck…he was very insulted…and I recently read your celebrity interview and found out you were 6ft 4….Dear God – Tall man!!!
Lots of milk as a child builds healthy bones!
After 30 years, Catfish should forgive. I really do think that’s a nickname that you could wear with pride if you had the right attitude.
My illustrious son will only accept the nickname he gave himself: “Captain Orgasmo.” It makes me glad that my mother is Catholic and has no idea what an orgasm is so when she sees him make this reference on Facebook she has absolutely no clue what it means.
I had a nickname in middle school that stuck throughout high school too. Since I was pretty much the only non-behemoth girl in 8th grade to have 36C’s, or should I say to have visible boobs that weren’t just extra fat rolls, of course, I was forever referred to as “Titties.”
That’s not cool. I undoubtedly would have been one of the ones making those remarks, but I can tell you from the gulf of years that cruelty like that comes from a deep and profound insecurity. That may not make a difference, but the biggest reason people say terrible things is because they feel terribly about themselves.
Having said that, I have never liked the word “Titties” or “Boobies.” It sounds so 7th Grade. I do however, like “tits” and “boobs” both in the general and the abstract.
Today I realize that insecurity was part of those guys’ problem. Even back then it really didn’t really bother me too much- as far as boobs go, usually too much is better than not enough- except for the one guy (who was 16 and still in 8th grade, who ate bugs, and was more than likely moderately retarded, and should never have been in “regular” school to begin with) who chased me around homeroom and tried to grab said “titties.” That bothered me a LOT. Especially when my best friend broke her leg in the process of thoroughly kicking his ass.
No, that’s not insecurity in the emotional sense, but a little more dangerously crazy. That’s F-ed up. What became of that guy, do you know?
The dude who chased me around trying to cop a feel is serving a life sentence in one of Ohio’s worst prisons (Lucasville) for killing and dismembering one of his cousins in an argument over booze. The only thing that kept Titty Grabber off Death Row is the fact he has an IQ of about 65. The other guys I went to school with, who suffered more normal insecurities, ended up with much less horrible fates. Some of them even ended up being productive members of society. But Titty Grabber is probably being grabbed in ways he’d never imagined back in 1981.
All that chasing you around was good practice for the horrors of his daily existence. Sounds like he was a bad dude who got what he deserved.
The worst/best nickname I’ve ever given anyone is “Porn Girl”.
Followed closely by “Shrub”.
I’d count those as “best.” I’m guessing Porn-Girl was non-sexual and Shrub was sexual.
El Guapo said:
First of all, that is not the real El Guapo. I rarely shave or keep my facial hair that neat.
Secondly, I’ve been the recipient of many nicknames over the years. And you’re absolutely right – the best way to divest yourself of one is to jut flat out ignore it.
There are still three that I reply to, and one from long ago that i actually miss sometimes…
Hey–that El Guapo was around in the era of silent movies, whereas I see you as more of a “talkie” kid. And, that El Guapo is endorsed by no less an authority than the Three Amigos!