Friday, March 20, 2009

A rose by any other name ......

The topic on DNTO a few weeks ago was names. Names at birth and names from friends. Given names and nicknames. Everyone, said host Sook-Yin Lee, has a nickname and that got me thinking. Did I have a nickname?

I suppose you could say that my nom de plume, Young Lady, is a bit of a nickname. And a few folks refer to me - in writing - by my first initial because that's usually how I sign off emails, etc. But it's not really a nickname.

Years ago I worked with a fellow whose initials made a word (for the life of me though I can't remember either his real name of the one I made up for him!) and so I called him that word rather than his name for as long as we worked together. He then begin to call me by the sound of my initials. It was something that the two of us shared. No one else called us by those names. It was special and it connected us and somehow strengthened our relationship.

When I met my anam cara they began to call me a 'silly' name and again I felt special.... until I heard them use if for lots of other people. Bummer. Because I had mistakenly thought that I had been given a gift - a private special name that was mine only. So when I heard it bandied around it was quite a disappointment. I heard it used again just the other day and recalled that original feeling.

Words, names, can be very powerful. A nickname can be a lovely -private in a public way - shared experience. Many, many years ago I called a man I loved 'Barney' ... it wasn't his name but it meant something to us and we could use it in public places knowing that it meant something intimate and private that no one else understood. A special shared moment that helped to connect us in public, and sometimes stressful or difficult situations.

Nicknames can also have a bit of a mean streak. Early in his construction career one of my sons shot himself in the foot with his nail gun and his nickname became 'Shooter' - his boss even had a name tag made for him.

A few years ago my anam cara and I began to call each other by the names of characters on a cartoon show. Are you pondering what I'm pondering? It was fun and silly and special because it was private.

I guess that's part of the power of a nickname. It demonstrates a connection, a shared experience or relationship.

So whether you're called Zippy or Pinky or D or Shooter .... a rose by any other name ......

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