What’s In a Nickname?

So I promised a blog about how I got my grammar school nickname, so here it is………


What’s the point of a nickname, anyway? Well, I suppose it’s just another form of a term of endearment, but usually with a little snide on the side – a chummy way for us to make fun of one another, in other words. And nowhere is teasing, sometimes mean spirited and sometimes not, more prevalent than in grammar school and Junior High.
Actually, I’ve had several nicknames throughout my life – some I liked more than others, to be sure.  In Writer’s Camp (I was in high school by then) I got stuck with “Long Johns” because I had these ridiculously long legs that were (WERE???) whiter than Kentucky Fried Chicken before it goes in the frier. I kind of liked that one. (It’s actually quite amazing how much writing I didn’t do at Writer’s Camp – but that’s another blog.)

When I worked at the newspaper they called me Mulder. This was during the time when X Files was hugely popular, and being prone to the popular media, I became an instant conspiracy theorist. Oh, I had maps taped to walls and tacks showing the latest UFO and Bigfoot sightings, I mean I was into it. I think the thing that ended the Mulder phase of my life was when I went to the work for the government. There aren’t very many conspiracy theorists in government. (I didn’t say there weren’t any, but the holdouts have a way of sticking out.) The reason for this is simple – people working in government realize that for the most part government conspiracies just aren’t possible. People talk too much in the lunchroom and have to try a little too hard to get up in the morning to make a secret government that no one knows about anything but ludicrous. Sure, there are parts of the federal government that they don’t exactly advertise, but that’s only because we have the best toys and everyone knows it. Have you ever noticed that convincing UFO photos and grainy Bigfoot videos sort of fell off the face of the Earth once everyone had a smart phone camera on them all the time? Interesting, dontcha think? I actually wrote a novel about UFOs – a fictional story about UFOs permeating every facet of modern life. The plot quickly got so ludicrous that I had to turn it into a science fiction novel to keep it from sounding like a manifesto. Anyway, Mulder is dead and buried, on tv as well as my nickname in those days.

Of course, one of my favorites has got to be “Crush Boy.”  The person who coined this nickname for me knows who she is, and I’m pretty sure she’s not reading this blog, like, ever. I kind of hope not, anyway. But it did make me want to go buy a cape and a jumpsuit with a giant CB emblem on the chest. Wouldn’t that be cool?  Don’t answer that.

In college I wore this ridiculous fedora – I was really into fedoras there for a while. I looked like Tom Green trying to be Humphrey Bogart. Needless to say, this was a look that didn’t last. But it earned me another nickname – “Indiana Bones.”  (I was still pretty lanky back then – I guarantee you no one would think to call me that today. “Indiana Fats” has a BBQ rib restaurant kind of sound to it, but that one is going a little too far the other way – I’m a big guy, but I’m far from fat, thank you very much….)  I thought “Indiana Bones” was mildly clever. When I graduated from college, the fedoras went away, and somewhat thankfully, so did that nickname.

Only one nickname ever stuck with me for any length of time – the nickname that I was given by a classmate in the 4th Grade:  “Jib.”

I remember when it happened almost like it was yesterday – Paul walked right up to me, looked me in the eye, and said, “You look like a Jib. From now on, your name is Jib. What the….

And for the next eight years at least, it was. Jib. Jibster. Jib-Meister. Jib Jones. Gentleman Jib (this one because I always held the door open for the girls like I’d been taught).

“Hey! – it’s Jib! How’s it hangin, Jib?” Even my best friends called me Jib. What the…..

And oh, how I hated it. I hated that name more than I’d ever hated anything. I felt degraded.

But you know, time is a funny thing. After a few years of being Jib, it kind of wore in, like a pair of scruffy boots that hurt your feet but you just know they are going to be as comfortable as hell if you can just get them broken in. It was like that, and after a while, I didn’t mind being Jib all that much.

When I was a Freshman in high school, I was injured in a bicycle accident and slowly lost the ability to walk. My limp became more and more pronounced as I slowly lost the use of my right leg. Suddenly, I wasn’t Jib anymore, I was the guy with the funny limp. Lost all but one of my friends during that time too – he still called me Jib.

Well, I had a very successful surgery and I was made all better and could walk right as rain again (after learning to walk again in the hospital, that is). When I came back to school after being out for three months, I heard one of the kids say, “Hey look, Jib got his leg fixed.”

Jib was back.

You know what?  The name has been with me ever since – sometimes some of my Wyoming friends still call me by it.  They mean it affectionately, and I love my nickname.
So really, what’s in a nickname?  Sometimes, a lot.

You can call me Jib.




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