Just to bring you up to speed, as a child, I picked up the name “Tiger”. I have no idea when I picked it up, I have no idea how I even got the name. However, anyone that has known me from my youth knows me by the name Tiger. In fact, to this day, I meet people that I knew as a boy, and when I tell them my name is Steve, they get this blank distant stare on their face, and so when I say “You may remember me as Tiger”, they immediately say: “Oh Tiger, why didn’t you say so…? I remember Tiger”. I mean Tiger was my name. My cousin John, who is a few years older than me still calls me “Tige” to this day. I signed my papers at school Tiger, I have a belt that I burned the name TIGER on the inside with a leather burning tool that one of my brothers got for Christmas. My mother used Tiger in her journal when referring to me and wrote Tiger to identify me in photographs. It wasn’t until probably about seventh or eighth grade that I began to try and go by Steve. I began signing my papers Steve, I asked that people call me Steve. I’m telling you that nickname habits die hard. Speaking of “Tiger”, I have learned of another person named “Tiger”. His real name is “Eldrick Tont… Woods”. Just so happens that he’s a golfer. Tiger Woods, maybe you’ve heard of him? (Sarcasm) Tiger Woods will be 39 this December. I suppose if my name were Eldrick Tont, I would probably stick with Tiger too.
I’m going to tell you about some other peoples nicknames. The point is for all of you to think a little bit before you give someone a nickname. Here are a few nicknames that I personally know. I’m not judging, I only refer to them as examples. As a matter of fact each of these people and their families are awesome people: I know a young married man who’s nickname was “Stain” in his youth. I know another young man that grew up with the name “Grub”. I know a young boy that goes by Bug, or Buggy. In my youth, I knew a boy a couple of years younger than me that was called “Tater”. I’m telling you all right now, that I know for certain that each of these people are going to be tied to their nicknames for the rest of their lives. I’m not even kidding. They may go by their formal name when they mature, or when they sign papers or meet new people, say at a job or something, but when they meet people that know them by their nickname, that is what they are going to get called. I can live with Tiger. Frankly at this point, “I’m stuck with it.” However, a word of caution to anyone dispensing nicknames: When you give someone a nickname, ask yourself if it’s a nickname that you would like to have the rest of your life. If not, give a second thought before you saddle someone else with it.
Ok, I have a middle name. It happens to be my mother’s maiden name, which I am proud to have. It represents my Grandfather who I think highly of as well as his family. However…. it’s a name that can be used as a first name or last name. It so happens that I share this middle name with my older brother Kelly. A brother that shares my birthday. (8 years apart.) It is his middle name also. Our parents must have decided that it was an omen or something. Who knows?
Before I tell you what the name is, I want to recount a story about it. When I was in my early twenties, I was seeing a young lady. We had gone on a couple of dates, and I was in pursuit you might say. Well, I called her up one evening, (way back when we had to use land lines) and asked her if she would go on a date with me on a particular evening. She said sure, before it dawned on her that she had already committed to go on a date with another person. During our conversation she remembered she already had another date scheduled for that same night. Well, it turns out that she went on for a few minutes about how she really wasn’t looking forward to this date with this other person, and how his name kinda did a good job of indicating the kind of guy he was. As it turns out, his first name was Gilbert. Yes, Gilbert. Then she proceeded to kid about it and make a little fun of it. When I told her that was my middle name, she didn’t believe me. She was sure I was pulling her leg. I think I ended up showing her my drivers license at one point to prove that was my name. Gilbert is just one of those names that has a type of stigma when used for a first name. Not sure why, it just seems that way to me, and also to the girl I was dating.
Speaking of Gilbert’s, I would be amiss, if I didn’t give honorable mention to my uncle at this point, my mothers brother. He got his mother’s maiden name also, which was Frost. As the story was recounted to me, my grandpa and grandma had selected an entirely different name on the day that he was to be blessed in church with his “official” name. As it turns out, his father took some paternal license and named him “Jack Frost Gilbert” right on the spot. Yeah, Jack Frost! Can you imagine my grandma’s surprise? Can anyone guess in a million years what nickname he was called? You guessed it. Frosty. Uncle Frosty only recently passed away in his 70’s, but everyone called him Frosty throughout his whole life and continues to call him Frosty even after he’s gone. He was a gentle and kind soul. Makes me personally wonder if his nature had anything to do with his name. Sometimes people called him Jack, but my perception is that everyone knows him as Frosty. Bless his heart.
Unique and strange names.
As I mentioned in a previous post, it can be challenging to come up with names that do not have some kind of connotation or association. I think that today there are a lot of people that can’t come up with names that they are satisfied with, so they decide to invent new names, or take an existing name and spell it in a unique way so that it doesn’t share the familiarity or association with traditional spellings. Case in point: The following videos are my very good friends daughter. I can’t make this stuff up people: These are real names.
All I can say is some people are mean. (Although they may not have intended to be mean.)
My comment after watching the video was “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…”
So a word about the name Steve Miller. It turns out, I was looking through my dad’s high school yearbook that dates back to the forties, and a caption under one of his photo’s was “Steve”. I immediately went to him and my mother both, and asked them what it was all about, and their response was that glazed over distant look that says “I have no idea”. I suppose when they named me, there had so be some reason, or not. Well it turns out that Steve Miller is a fairly common combination name, at least up until 1973 when the Steve Miller Band became renowned for the bands album titled “The Joker”. Now there was an association. I suspect that people with the last name Miller, began naming their sons Steve much less post 1973 than pre-1973. It’s kind of a bummer, because now as you might imagine, when I introduce myself as Steve Miller, I usually get a response. Probably the most common are: “Do you have a band?” or “Fly like an eagle!”. I smile and give a courtesy grin, and then it dawns on them that I have heard it ad nausea before at which point they typically say something like: “I bet you get that a lot” or “I’m sure you have heard that a few times”. One of my favorite recollections was not long after I got married. My wife and I had to go to a customer service counter at a grocery store for some reason. I told them my name, I got a typical response, and my wife, who was not feeling particularly jovial looked the person in the eye and in a somber tone said: “Old Joke!” I think I immediately cracked up. It was funny. After a couple of months, she had reached her limit. I still think it’s funny.
Every now and then. I have fun with it. Sometimes when I am ordering a sandwich or something and I know they are going to call my name, I might give them the name “Maurice”. (Steve Miller has a popular song called “The Joker” and a line from the song goes: “Some people call me Maurice” (followed by a wolf whistle on a slide guitar), and then the song continues “Cause’ I speak of the pompitous of love”. (FYI:pompitous is not a real word. Steve Miller thought it was something else, and so this song is about it’s only usage. ) On occasion, a person may look at my name on a debit card or something and smile, but most of the time, only my wife Lorna gets it. Sometimes she will make a wolf whistle sound. For the most part, as you can tell, I have adapted. Sometimes I wonder if it helps people to remember my name just because of the association. The way I see it, it could be much worse.
Occasionally I run into other people with unique names, and I kinda feel like I have earned license to discuss names with others. I met a woman Pamela Anderson. Looked much different than the Pam Anderson that many people associate with Baywatch. I have a neighbor by the name Howard Howard. I went to school with a friend Bill Murray, he was not the same Bill Murray in Caddyshack, Stripes and Ghostbusters. It’s likely that many of us get our average names and then a person comes along with the same name to make it “popular” or notorious, then everyone with the same name has to deal with it…
Unique Last Names
I know a lady with the last name Hooker. Seems fairly tame, and somewhat common. She is a delightful senior citizen. There is a company named Hooker, which makes exhaust headers, and I really didn’t give it much thought, however in a passing conversation with Mrs. Hooker, she said she has a grand daughter that ended up changing her last name, while she was still single, because she was tired of the association. As a kid, I remember looking through a phone book, (For everyone under 25, it is a book made of really thin paper that had everyone’s name, address and phone number.) and there were some people with the last name “Hamburger”. How about Anthony Wiener? (Not to mention his fascination. Can we say Nominative Determinism? ) And then there are the situations where someone with a certain name marries a person with a name that makes the combination really unique. Case in point, there was a young woman by the name of Cherry that married Mr. Topping. Another one is Mrs. Poore that married Mr. Sapp, and another is Gowan marries Geter. I looked up a whole lot of other combinations, but frankly the associations are in bad form, so I can’t repeat the others.
And then there is Mean and Ignorant!
Diva Thin Muffin? Moon Unit? Dweezil? All three children of Frank Zappa. Royal Reign, Lil Kim’s daughter. Busy Phillips named her daughters Birdie and Cricket. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their daughter North West. (Although in this case, when considering the source, I’m not really surprised.) Nicole Richie named her son Sparrow. Nicholas Cage named his son Krypton. Penn Jillette named his daughter and son Moxie CrimeFighter and Zolten, respectively. Gwyneth Paltro named her daughter Apple. And one of my personal favorites is Jermaine Jackson’s selection for his son Jermajesty. Can you think of anything more cruel or unusual and in my humble opinion VAIN! In their effort to be unique or unusual or in an attempt to differentiate their “special” children from the rest of the John’s, William’s and Steve’s of the world, they have saddled these young children with a life of teasing and ridicule. C’mon, admit it. You all know these poor children are going to be teased and harassed to death, just so their parent’s could claim uniqueness. It’s cruel, or is it just me? Put it in the comments.
Do you know someone with a unique nickname? Do you have a nickname? If you have a nickname, do you like it? If given the opportunity to go back, would you choose not to have it? Do you like your name? Have you considered legally changing your name? Do you know someone with a unique first or last name? Any unusual or unique name combinations? Put it in the comments.