Could you imagine being in a crowded restaurant having lunch with an important business associate when suddenly someone yells at you from across the room, “St-t-t-tuttering Stan Wallace from Belville Middle School? Is that r-r-r-really y-y-y-you?!” or, “No way! Pee Pants Pam from Ridgemont High? What’s up, girl?” The restaurant goes so quiet you could hear ice melt as everyone turns to look at the shouter and figure out who is the shoutee.
At this point, as the person being called out, you have three options: hide under the table until the coast is clear and then discreetly sneak out the back door; embrace the hopefully quick and minimally humiliating trip down memory lane; or play deaf and ignore the loud patron while praying they will just give up and go away. If only!
Aren’t childhood nicknames lovely? Depending on what they are, and the reason behind them, nicknames can conjure up unpleasant imagines of childhood angst, most embarrassing moments, or a reputation you’d rather forget. These are the kinds of nicknames that many have wished would remain in the hallowed halls of their beloved alma mater, never to be uttered again, except possibly at the first 10-year class reunion.
What about the childhood nicknames that aren’t so bad? The ones that are endearing, sound cool, or were born out of great moments? The ones that we grew up with, or what our family and close friends call us? Nicknames like Mikey, Lizzy, Bubba, Susy Q, or Ricky the Ringer? Do these fun nicknames actually stick with us through adulthood?
That pretty much depends on how much we like it and the person that gave it to us. If our mom, sweet grandmother, or favorite uncle donned us with the label it is pretty much guaranteed it will stick with us through old age. That is, except when we were going through that teen rebellion phase where we rejected everything we knew as we searched for our real identity (and family, because we were obviously not related to the bunch of loony tunes we lived with).
The exclusive and catchy nicknames we lovingly refer to our close friends as, and them us, like Stan the Man or Brenda Bee, we usually don’t mind holding onto either. They represent our fun side and help us not be so serious. That is, unless it’s something like Jager Master or Jello Shot Jenny. Those might just bring back the not-so-fond hangover memories from the times when we had way too much fun with our friends.
The other determining factor for nickname longevity is whether or not it is appropriate for our more mature (or not) adult lifestyle. There may be times when using our full name is more fitting for the situation. For example, Samuel and Christine might be taken more seriously in a stuffy business environment. By the same token, Timmy and Lainie will have no problems in a more casual office. Then again, even in a serious business setting, after your career has spanned decades (and your bank account balance has several commas and zeros) it becomes perfectly acceptable to add your nickname in quotation marks to your business cards and desk placard, if you so choose.
All in all, nicknames are like relationships. We’ve all had a few at one time in our lives or another. Some were good and some not so much. Some were endearing and some were embarrassing. Some reminded us of our great accomplishments while others made it hard to forget our failures. But aside from all that, one thing is for sure: having it yelled across a crowded restaurant during an important business lunch can be quite uncomfortable, a just a wee bit distracting, to say the least!