Sunday, December 29, 2013


I've always been intrigued by nicknames, and how people get them and how they stick.  Sometimes they start out as, say, pet names between couples, or maybe from grade school.  Some come from early childhood, and may have come about when they were a baby.  Maybe it's a play on their name, first or last, or something that they do.  Whatever it is, I think nicknames are pretty cool.

When I and my siblings were kids, my father always gave us nicknames.  Unfortunately, sometimes they stuck, and were used for years within our family, though they seldom spread beyond the family.  My uncle started calling me Eric "Von Zipper", after a character who appeared in the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach movies from the 60s.  Apparently, he was a bit of a doofus who wore a leather jacket and rode a motorcycle.  The only connection is our first name, Eric.  That morphed into my dad calling me "Z", short for Zipper, and sometimes "Z-bar" or "Z-bar-boy".  My brother got it a little worse, though.  For whatever reason, we started calling him "Paco".  I really don't know why.  His actual name is Darren.  As he got older, I started calling him "Kiddo", and it stuck, at least as far as I'm concerned, and I call him that to this day.

I guess Dad really liked nicknames, since he had such a large family (he's one of eight siblings) and they all called each other different names.  Dad was "Ferd", a spin on our last name.  As a William, he was, naturally, called "Bill", or "Billy".  He and Mom called each other "Borky" and "Buckwheat", after the Little Rascals characters.  My grandfather became "Pap", and I called him "Pap Pap Hair", since he was a barber, when I was a kid.  After becoming grandfathers themselves, my father and all of his brothers became "Paps", too, or "Pap Pap".  I called my cousin, Jeff, "Fuff", when I was a little kid.  My cousin, Jimmy, was "Jimbo", which I know he hated.  Mom, whose name is Gwendolyn, or Gwen, was called "Gwenzie" when she was a kid.

Having the last name Freed makes for an easy nickname.  My boss at work calls me "Freed" all the time, especially when he's not happy, which is all the time.  He's also known to call me "Freebird" or "Freburg".

My other grandfather, who was a professional jazz trumpet player, was nicknamed "Bebop" by us, his grandkids.  I'm told he loved it.

When I was in Junior High gym class, I became known as "Stork" because of the way I ran.  I didn't care for that one, but it stuck the whole year.

My wife started calling me "Bubba" after we got married.  I don't know why, and she didn't even know why, but it stuck, and became my pet name.  I called her "My Dear".  I didn't have anything else that could really qualify as a nickname.  However, her family gave her the nickname "T2" when her cousin, Josh, was a little kid.  He couldn't pronounce "Teresa", and it came out as "Teretoo", or, shortened, "T2".  Her uncle called her that for years (and referred to himself as "U1").  I adopted T2 for Teresa, but I never called her that except in writing.  Uncle Jerry calls me "E1".  A few of my employees call me "E", which I kind of like.  My current boss refers to me as "E", as well, among a lot of other names, like "Dr. Freed" and "Good Eric" (there's another Eric who is "Bad Eric", of course).

My daughter, Melody, was saddled with "Babe", which is what I called her when she was a baby, and it stuck.  You might think she would get the name "Mel", or "Melly", but neither name stuck.  She's still Babe within the family.

We tried to make things easy on my daughter when she was little, and we called my sister "Aunt G" based on her real name, Angie.  Angie loves it!  My brother, Darren, became Uncle D.  I call Angie "Ang".  Angie is also short for Angenette, her actual name.

Even our pets end up getting nicknames, even when their actual names are almost nicknames themselves.  Faithful Pup Scout is nicknamed "Puppy", or "Scouter", or even "Little Pup".  My sister's cat, Sam, was called "Sammy", or, as I called him, "Sammy Claws".

Some nicknames are better than others, but they sure are fun.  I'm glad to have a couple that I like, though there are just as many that are really bad.  Then there's this one, about a lost dog:  3 legs, blind in one eye, missing right ear, tail broken, recently castrated...answers to the name, "Lucky".

Have a great weekend, everyone!