Saturday, August 25, 2007

What’s in a name?

Some people insist on using their full given name (Mary Elizabeth). Other people are called by the classic shortening of their given names (Bill) and many go by their middle names (Gale). And there are a few that only use their initials (LJ) or a suffix (Jr.). Still others get saddled with a nickname from childhood that will be with them for life. For example, my mother’s brother was called Uncle Punk. He had been called Punk from childhood.

I have been called various things during my life depending on who it was, where I was living, or why I was in a situation. When I was born my 1-year-old cousin could not say my name. Instead, he said Bubaly. My family thought it was cute and has called me Bubby ever since (my nephew still calls me Aunt Bubby or just Bub—he is 32). When I went to college, I studied Spanish and was called Conchita. After college, that changed to Concha. Some of my oldest friends still call me that. I have also been called Bink by some friends (a nickname from their children) and most recently just B. I usually sign notes or emails as B.

You can tell the length of my friendship with people by what they call me. Recently there was some discussion among my friends on who knew me the longest. I thought it was obvious. Once you get to know someone, it is hard to switch names and start calling them something else. I have had many people say to me “You are so totally a Concha.” And then others; say, not.

Do nicknames exist anymore? I do not know any children that are called by nicknames. For that matter, I don’t know many adults that have nicknames. Maybe it’s regional- or-is it something that we acquire over time?

I answer to many names. “Hey you,” works too.

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