Wednesday Woes: The Trouble with Nicknames

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The other day, my friend Jarom was reborn. It was amazing.


Walking through Times Square, Jarom was stopped by a random rap artist, peddling his wares among the tourists. “What’s your name, man?”








“Cool,” said the rapper. “I’m gonna call you J-Smoove.”


That’s right, Smoove, with the letter “V”.


It’s all I can do to keep my jealousy from spewing out of my throat like hot magma from vengeful volcano. Getting an awesome nickname from an outside party is like being knighted by the King of the Known Universe.


I’m jealous because, unfortunately, I have not been rechristened yet. And, even more unfortunate, you cannot give yourself your own nickname. It’s the rules.


I’ve thought of so many good ones. Bad News Boyce. Billy Goat Boyce. Bad Goat Boyce. Baron Von Zoloft. DogHouse Reilly. M.C. Chewbacca. I’ve tried to trick people. I’ve tried to bait them into dubbing me something that tells the menfolk that I ain’t to be flexed with, something that would immediately inform the ladies that I will be the greatest love of their lives, even if they live to be 110 years old. I’ve cried bitter tears over the fact that Ol’ Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan has more aliases than God. It’s unfair that some should have so many, while others have so few.


But the law is the law. And I have to respect that.


You can’t give yourself your own nickname because you don’t have an accurate picture of yourself. In some ways, no one can know you better than you. But many times, your idea of who you are is skewed – by traumatic experiences, by delusions of grandeur, or just by a lack of perspective. You never truly know how you come off to other people. Steve Urkel from TV’s “Family Matters” probably thought that the outside world saw him as his suave alter-ego Stefan UrKel all the time.


That’s why it is the responsibility of those around you to assign you a nickname. Otherwise, it’s just shameful, delusional self-promotion. Your friends and family, if they feel it is good and necessary, will aggregate your most outstanding qualities into an awesome moniker. Even if you don’t like the nickname you’ve been given, in all likelihood, it’s probably accurate. If you don’t like it, shift your personal paradigm.


There are a fortunate select few that live in a Pantheon of quotidian, earth-bound deities. They live on a veritable mountaintop with The Fonz and almost every blues musician, moonshiner and rap artist. But to the rest of us, we patiently await the day that we have finally acquired a sweet “aka” which to be casually called. After all, you can’t call the Queen and tell her “You’re gonna knight me.” You can’t just swing by Mount Olympus on the way home from work and fill out some forms and become a god.


Of course, some of you will never have nicknames. To all of you poor souls, I say “the world needs ditchdiggers, too.”


That’d be a good one. Ditchdigger.


By John-Ross Boyce

Opinions Editor