I’ve always wanted to have a cool nickname, one that everybody would know, so that when the name was said everybody would know exactly who they were talking about. I know, it sounds extremely self-centered and selfish. However, when your name is Joe and the best anyone can come up with is Joey, you feel a little underwhelmed. Also, I don’t count knucklehead, nitwit and moron as nicknames, even if my older brothers called me those a lot.
When we used to watch Happy Days, Fonzie had a nephew named Spike. I thought Spike was a cool name, but it just didn’t fit me. I wasn’t a tough guy going around in a leather jacket. I was more of an easy going guy with a fake leather jacket…that cracked and split in the cold weather. Then there was Butch, which may have come from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. However, again the name just didn’t fit me. It was just too tough for a small, scrawny guy like me. For a long time I just went by the pathetic Joey.
Then around sixth grade, I came up with a decent nickname: Fry. That was a name that fit me, because I was small and I was French. My closest neighborhood friends started calling me that, but that was about it. It never caught fire. Even though I even painted a white navy hat with bright, neon colors with the name Fry on the front, and wore it just about everywhere for close to a year, only those few friends called me Fry. I did have one or two friends who called me Jose, what they thought was an ironic twist on my name since my ancestry is French. For both years of junior high, I was simply known as Joe, or Joey by those who’d known me since early-elementary school.
When I got to high school, I ended up with a bunch of different names. A group of guys that were a year older than me and knew my sister started calling me Slits, which was short for Slits for Eyes, because they thought I had small eyes. Then a couple of the guys on the baseball team started calling me Rooster because the nickname of the Red Sox shortstop at the time was Rooster, and I played shortstop. One time I had a good enough game in baseball that my name was in the local paper – as Chuck instead of Joe – so a few people started calling me that. A few guys on the baseball team called me Fifi (pronounced fee fee) because I had a hat that had the letters FE on it, and again because my ancestry was French. I have to tell you, when you get up to bat with the bases loaded and a couple of guys are yelling for Fifi to get a hit, the guys on the other team are not too intimidated.
So here I am fifty something years in to my life and I still don’t have a cool nickname. Now I’m not sure if I even want one. I’ve kind of gotten used to just plain old Joe. No hidden meaning, no people asking me all the time why I’m called Pee Wee or Dimples or Zou Zou. No embarrassing stories going back thirty or forty years that even my kids would get tired of hearing. Nope, you can just call me Joe. Or, as my Dad used to say, “Call me what you want, just don’t call me late for supper!”