What’s In a Name?

Recently I was watching an interview when they started talking about nicknames.  Wow, did that bring back memories from years ago.  I might regret posting this, but I’m willing to suffer for the sake of a blog post.
I’ve been called a few nicknames — some cute, others downright mean, while others have been considered terms of affection by close friends and family members.
My aunts and dad called me Joanie.  I liked that and still do.  A few close friends will use this name and I don’t mind.  Just don’t call me Joanne, Jones, or John – It’s been done and it’s not my name.
My first memory of a friend-given nickname is “Joan the dog-bone…” along with the rest of that phrase, “…talking on the telephone.”  Elementary school kids like to rhyme.  I think I got this one in 2nd or 3rdgrade.   Although a particular relative continues to call me “Dog-Bone” since I mentioned this nickname years ago, I don’t really care for it.
The next one was sometime after 6th grade.  We were reading a poem in class and there right in the end of each verse was “Greasy Joan”.  For that entire year and part of the next I endured the teasing.  Okay, I have to admit I didn’t remember anything about this poem (except the reference to my name) until I looked it up.  The poem was written by Shakespeare!  You know ol’ Will Shakespeare of Romeo and Juliet fame.  I guess in retrospect it doesn’t seem so bad.
“Spring and Winter”
by William Shakespeare
When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-whit! To-who!—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doe blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-whit! To-who!—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

The last nickname and probably most humiliating at the time was “PQ” or “Potty Queen”.  I was given that one in high school.  Yes, I admit to having a small bladder back then.  In fact, I still can’t leave the house without making one last trip to the, um, facility.  But because I needed a restroom break at lunchtime I was given the prestigious Potty Queen name.  Maybe something about my “reigning” a lot?  Sigh.  And after all these years that name still surfaces now and then from one specific friend – Diana.  From her I consider it a term of affection, from anyone else would be an insult.
All-in-all, I guess when others make up a new name for someone it has to do with how much they care.  In school the kids only cared about embarrassment.  But names given by close friends and family members really do tend to show a different kind of caring.  From the friends that enjoy poking fun, to the close friends that share a common bond, nicknames will stick with us forever.
Do you have a nickname?  What’s the story behind it?  Share if you dare.  J

15 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  1. Of all your nicknames, I still like Joanie best. I don't remember having any nicknames as a child. Hmm, not sure why. Of all the nicknames, I think Nana is the best followed closely by Mom. ♥ Good post.

  2. When I was a little kid, my family called me “Denny.” In eighth grade, my woodshop teacher called me “Van.” I was “D I” (first and middle name initials) in the Navy. A few friends call me Den. I am offended by people I meet for the first time who quip, “Oh, Dennis the Menace.”

  3. Names have been my bane all of my life. My mother named me after my Grandmother Iola. And my Grandmother nicknamed me “Cookie”. She told me that the first time she laid eyes on me when I was baby she knew I was her “Sugar Cookie”. And we were very close. That name stuck with me throughout my life, in fact there are family members who still think it is my “real name”. I have tried to switch to Iola, exclusively but it always feels like I am referring to someone else when I introduce myself.

  4. Ah, nicknames. Don't have one, don't want one, shudder, shudder and all that. My name is Anna. It is not Ann, Annie, Orphan Annie, Anna Banana or Anna-Fanna-Bo-Banna-Fee-Fi-Fo-Fanna-Anna. As you can guess, I have heard all of those at one point or another. I have allowed none of them to stick although occasionally certain persons can't seem to resist the last two…mostly in an effort to irritate me. Yes, it works.

    The only exceptions…my mother occasionally calls me Miss Anna, a moniker my younger niece called me for a very short but adorable time, and my grandmother (who is 89 and therefore permitted to call me whatever she pleases) has always and probably will always call me Anna-Pan…don't ask me why.

  5. My sister calls me Markle. By brother is Mike (Michael) and my mother has always had trouble calling us by the right name, so my sister had fun with that. I've got a few people around town that call me “Doc”. I put “Doc” in my byline once since I was referring to E.E. “Doc” Smith, the science fiction writer, in an early column. And the nickname has stuck with me.

  6. With a name close to Anna Stewart's, I've had folks call me Annis-Banannis. When I was a child, I'd meet up with cousins who lived several states away when we all went to visit our grandparents. One of them dared to call me Anacin Tablet.

    Good post that brought back memories, Joan. Thank you. xoA

  7. As a little kid, my family called me Denny. My eighth grade wood shop teacher call Van. In the Navy I was D-I (initials of first and middle names). A few friends call me Den.

    As a college professor, I did not allow students to call me Dennis. International students called me Mr. Dennis or Dr. Dennis. I loved that.

    I am most offended when people meeting me for the first time assume on hearing my name that it's okay to chirp, “Oh, Dennis the Menace.”

  8. I've been given a handful of nicknames with all sorts of different spellings. Jas, Jaz and Jazzy are used the most by my close friends and family, but sometimes I get other things like JLO or JLowe (because of my last name), Yasmine, Yazmiiine (said in some weird made up accent) or Jazmiine pronounced with an “h” sound instead of the “J” and other weird ones. I respond to whatever, lol.

  9. Oocha, mama! Am I that far behind on blogging???
    I enjoy “Davy Baby” that a good buddy gave me (He's Keithie-poo– I win). Yet I would go crazy when I heard 'Kindergarten Davy, born in the Navy.” Maybe just the annoying rhythm that beats in my head.

    I made the mistake in college, one beer-fueled night, of sharing a high school nickname. Whatever possessed me, I do not know. Most unfortunately, two of the dorm friends there that night joined my fraternity–and the name came along like an unwanted relative from a Joan Raymond story.

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