Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Name Game

Attention, attention. I have an important Big Apple Angie announcement to make. After a lifetime of distress caused by never receiving a long-lasting, endearing nickname, I have decided to give myself one. I’ve been patient enough, but 27 years is a long time to wait for a quality nickname to appear out of the blue. Henceforth, I declare before all the Internet that I won’t be 28 before I have a fun pseudonym of my own. Before the big reveal, some background on why this is important to me.
My brother Alex has had his quirky nickname nearly since birth. When watching the home video of his 1st birthday party, you can already hear Mom calling him “Hodgie” from behind the 300-lb. 1980s video camera. This infamous moniker came from Jimmy, one of the fellas in my Dad’s 80s new wave band. Dad & Jimmy were in their early 20s of course when Alex & I were wee, so naturally they were as mentally mature as 12-year-old girls. Cartoon watching was a favorite pastime, and in 1985, when my bro arrived, Johnny Quest was big, and he happened to have a super fast Indian sidekick named Haji. As the legend goes, Alex was a speedy crawler and one day upon noticing that, Jimmy borrowed Johnny Quest’s catchphrase, “Run, Haji, run!" And so it has been since the beginning. Somehow when it came time to spell Haji, we Americanized it… and Hodgie became his official unofficial name. He also answers to Hodge-Podge and Hodge-em-tah.
Can you guess what his license plate says in big green block letters? HODGIE. One of his first tattoos features the name in script. And the best part of Hodgie’s nickname? Many of his friends do not know he was born with a different name. There have been times when I’ve called him Alex and his friends have looked at me like I called him Big Bird.
That’s the best kind of nickname, isn't it? One that sticks so hard, people wholly ignore what’s on your birth certificate.
And then there’s little sister Rachel. We’ve called her RaeRae for years, but abbreviations don’t count in my book… and I covet a different name. I can’t pinpoint the date when this particular term came into our family’s vernacular, but I do remember the episode of the Simpson’s my Dad derived it from – yes, another cartoon. Homer & family were playing Scrabble, and Homer used all his letters to spell out the not-real-word Q-U-I-J-I-B-O. And just like that, after one episode of the Simpsons, my sister was marked for life as Quijibo. Incidentally, Homer’s definition was less than flattering, “a fat, balding North American ape with no chin.” But she’s been Quijibo and variations ever since – Quiji, Queen la Quije, Quijianna, etc.
It’s not surprising then that my Dad, who is affectionately called Bobandy by just about everyone in Jacksonville, is the source of all this nickname chicanery. We can’t go ANYWHERE without hearing, “BOBANDY! What’s up?!” Concerts, the grocery store, Disney World, other states, cruise ships, the woods…
Anyhow, you know how parents will sometimes holler the names of all their kids before getting to the one they’re actually trying to reach? If Mom or Dad is yelling for me, the rundown goes like this: “HODGE! QUEEJE! ANGE!” Ange?! Let me reiterate: abbreviation does not a sufficient nickname make, people. Lame.
And how about my Grandma? It feels bizarre to even call her that, because all my life she’s been Monga. I couldn’t pronounce grandma when I was little, and M-O-N-G-A was the amalgamation of letters that came out. Since I was the first grandkid on that side, it stuck for all the buggers who came after me.
For the longest time, toddler Quijibo didn’t know that Monga was her grandma, because we never told her (oops - minor oversight). We were completely oblivious to her confusion until one day she asked if “Mom’s friend Monga” was coming over for her birthday party. We still tease her about that.
Within the family, aside from Hodgie, Quijibo, Monga and Bobandy, we also have Boss (Mom), Pegatha (Aunt Peg), Potto (Chris), Chopper (Brittany), Daniel-son (Daniel), Mole (Mark), Jeffro (Uncle Jeff) and Cookie (No idea what her real name is).
Imagine for a moment what it must sound like to outsiders when Mom hollers for everyone to come in for family dinner:
Chopper! Jeffro! Pegatha! Potto! Hodgie! Daniel-son! Quijibo! Bobandy! Mole! Monga! Dinner’s ready!
But wait, there’s more! Let’s talk about the wackadoo family friends who float in and out of our lives - and house, for that matter. There are Hodgie’s friends – AJ, TJ, CJ and DJ. There’s Ralstonator, D-Rock, Dickler and last but not least, WEZBY. There’s that kid who lived upstairs who we called Harry Potter – I have no idea what his real name is - and the kid from down the street, Dill. Or was it Gill? Or MacGillicutty?
Dad’s friends’ names are equally crazy – Skeletor, Tram, Dan-O, Tabs, Moose, Wandy, Buzzy, Claybones, Dave the Wave, Homoron 1 & Homoron 2… and the 10 or so Scotts who all have identifying monikers of their own, i.e. Curly Scotty.
Lands’ sakes, our pets even have nicknames. Tommy, the psycho macaw, is also known as T-Tom, Thomas T. Bird, T Tommy Thomason and SHUT UP YOU IDIOT. (Full disclosure: ok, he just thinks his name is SHUT UP YOU IDIOT because we say it a lot.) Sheila, the loony Australian Cattle Dog/Sheltie mix, is known as She-She, Sheera, Stoopy Stoopelon and Stoopelon Mississippi. The cat’s actual name is Polo, but you wouldn’t know it because everyone calls her Kiki or Keeks.
With cool nicknames given out so freely, it’s plain insulting I never got one. Mom will insist that I have all sorts of nicknames… Bean, JeanBean, JeannieBeannie, Jellybean. If in fact anyone ever did call me any bean-derivative nickname, I was too young to remember. Furthermore, how did my siblings get two really cool, Middle Eastern-sounding nicknames and I got a legume?
I decided that despite missing out on the nickname bonanza, I would not be insulted. Instead I would give myself a catchy, quirky, appropriate moniker. I’ve been thinking about this name for my entire life. Recently, the perfect, inspired name came to me and I was so excited to announce it, but now looking at this list of clever, wacky names that have been with folks for a lifetime, I’m chickening out. I couldn’t bear to announce my well thought-out name just to have it land with a thud as everyone kept calling me Angie instead. Oh well... BAA will have to suffice.


Yuяi said...

I've got one. If you insist on BAA, how about the immortal line from Babe: Baa Ram Ewe

"Baa, ram, ewe. To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true. Sheep be true. Baa, ram, ewe."

Joe Nicola said...

Ange...what an awesome post! I laughed out loud at your thoughts on nicknames and it made me want to make you an honorary air traffic controller, where EVERYONE has a nickname.

Like you, I have no idea what some of these people's real names are. I've worked with guys we call "Scooter," "Weezer," "McLovin'," "Trainwreck," or "Jet Pack." Also, "Mac Attack," "Buffy," and "Whiz Kid." We even had a woman we called "Beetlejuice," because her complexion was so pasty white and she used to wear really dark lipstick that made her look like, well, you know, Beetlejuice.

And, yes, I, too, have a nickname...several. But the one that most people call me is either Joe Nic (so original), or "Cake"...long story behind that one, but it's sufficient to say that it involves bringing in cakes to celebrate various "occasions." lol.

Anyway, I really enjoyed your writing! Funny!

Anonymous said...


You were also Sissy for a looong time, since Alex could talk. The legume thing started with "Angeleenie Jelly Beanie" and got shortened eventually to Bean. I like it. I also refer to you as Carmen, from "where in the world is Carmen Sandeigo" also very fitting since we never really know where in the world you are!
Anyway great blog. Very true and funny.

Wezby said...

Great blog...however I can't believe you left me out of the friends with nicknames list...unbelievable... hahaha, just kidding...but I must say, you can't give yourself a nickname, it just happens sometimes they stick, other times they don't. I've been through a few nicknames:

"Wezby" - From Elementary School, no clue why, it just happened

"Jethro" - from when i was little and would eat very large bowls of cereal like Jethro Bodine from "The Beverly Hillbillies"

"Squizzle" - From Junior High, again no explanation

"Bazooka" - From the rugby team because I passed the ball really fast and hard.

"Slash" - From the rugby team because I had some sunglasses that made me look like Slash from Guns 'n' Roses.

"Crazy Monkey" - From college friends, just because I do some crazy things every once in a while.

"Jesus" or "Jesús" - due to the fact that I can sometimes look like the typical image of Jesus when I have a beard and my hair down.

"Johnny Damon", "JD", etc. - because when I had my beard and my Red Sox hat, i would look like former Red Sox player Johnny Damon.

But through all of those nicknames, Wezby is the only one that has really stuck with a large group of people, the others come and go..or just stick with a few friends...

So, you can't give yourself one, you just earn it somehow...hopefully that happens in a nice unembarrassing way..I can't imagine how bad it would be to earn a terrible nickname for something really embarrassing that you did.

Good luck with your Nickname Quest