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John W. Pinkerton


When I was in high school, I had a nickname---Pink.  Not very imaginative, but it was appropriate being that it was based on the first syllable of my surname.   I guess the reason I liked the nickname was because friends called me that.  After high school when I was in college and around different folks, the nickname disappeared.  I kind of miss being called Pink.

Nicknames, for the most part, are friendly appellations given folks we like.  However, sometimes nicknames are given to diminish the recipient like “Tricky Dick” or “Slick Willie.”  Wow, those must have stung a little.

Probably the most common nickname in this part of
the world, Texas, is Bubba.  My brother-in-law is Bubba as well as five or six other folks I know in our town of about 1300.  Bubba is a friendly nickname. It implies a good fellow.  I don't think I've ever met a Bubba who wasn't likable.

I've noticed through the years that females seem to like giving their significant others nicknames.  The following are probably acceptable to the recipients:
Bear, Big Boy, Bull, Cowboy, Sailor, and Tiger.  They're all somewhat masculine and the recipient wouldn't mind his friends overhearing these; however, being referred to as Bunny, Kissy Face, Poo Boo, Snookums or Tootsie Wootsie is a different story.  Ladies, call your fellows whatever you like in private, but show some restraint in public.  I'm afraid the conversation among the recipient's friend would be long and derisive and any explanation called for would be somewhat embarrassing.

Of course, long given names have a tendency to become shorter among family members and friends: Anthony becomes Tony; Philip becomes Phil;

Jeffrey---Jeff; Robert morphs into either Rob or Bob; Andrew become Andy or Drew; Daniel becomes Dan; James changes to Jim; Benjamin becomes Ben;  David becomes Dave; Peter becomes Pete; Richard becomes Rich or Dick;  Well, you get the picture.

A number of historical figures had nicknames: Abraham Lincoln---Abe, Jane Fonda---Hanoi Jane,
Churchill---the Bulldog, Dwight Isenhower---Ike, Louis Armstrong---Satchmo,  James Butler Hickok---Wild Bill, Henry McCarty---Billy the Kid, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus---Caligula, George S. Patton---Old Blood and Guts, W. Mark Felt---Deep Throat, Iva Toguri D'Aquino---Tokyo Rose.  Some of these are derisive, some supportive.  In some cases we remember the nicknames better than the given names.

Sports figures seem to have the coolest nicknames:
Hector “Macho” Camacho, Daryl “Moose” Jonhston, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Ozzie “The Wizard” Smith, Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd,  “Hammerin'” Hank Aaron, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, “Broadway Joe” Namath, Willie “The Say Hey Kid” Mays.

A number of political figures have been given
nicknames which have stuck: “Bubba” or “Slick Willie” Clinton, “Governor Moonbeam” Brown, “Hahmbo” Rahm Emanuel, “Snarlin'” Arlen Specter, Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger,  “Landslide” Lyndon Johnson, and,  of course, “Tricky Dick” Nixon.

Even states have nicknames, most several:  Alabama
the Camellia State, Arkansas the Land of Opportunity, California the Sunshine State, Colorado the Switzerland of America, Georgia the Peach State, Louisiana the Bayou State, Missouri the Show Me State, Oklahoma the Sooner State, South Dakota the Coyote State, and Wisconsin the Cheese State.  I like the nickname for Texas best of all: The Lone Star State.

Some towns we readily recognize by their nicknames: San Antonio, the Alamo City; Boston Massachusetts, Bean Town; New Orleans, the Big Easy; New York, the Big Apple; Las Vegas, Sin City; Chicago, the Windy City.  Even my small town of Somerville has a nickname, the Ville.

Folks seem to like nicknames.  Perhaps it's because folks have poor memories for real names.  I know I do; but a nicknames, they’re easy to recall.