Generally, I think that title is true- Nicknames aren’t as clever as they used to be. I can remember my dad had (and still has) a nickname for almost everyone he knows. His friends from childhood had the best ones- “pockets”- the guy who always had his hands in his pockets (OK, this is not the best example of being clever) “braciole” – I love this one, the guy who wore his hair in a top wave in the 50’s, and it looked like a braciole. My sisters and I were always called by lovely little sweet nicknames by our mother “pumpkin” “peaches”, etc. My dad calls his three sons in law “the Jerkey boys” a clever play on the Jersey boys, and pretty accurate as well!!
At the frat house, everyone has a nickname. Everyone. I have no idea what most of mine are, I suspect it’s better I don’t, but the one I do know and love is Jomomchef. What I love the most about it is that the “mom” comes before the “chef”, and I hope that’s a reflection of how my boys see me. Most of the nicknames at KA are just last names, pretty lazy if you ask me. Some of the guys are just called by their first names, I suppose they’re not interesting enough to get a nickname. (I only say this, of course, to annoy them). Once in a while someone will come up with a really bad nickname – like cheesemop. Cheesemop happened when one very high (I’m guessing here) brother looked at another brother who was eating string cheese and mopping the floor and said ” You’re cheesemop”. Not a lot of thought went into that one. Really good nicknames happen organically, and those are the ones that stick. Take Sake for example- he is, if you haven’t already guessed, Asian, half asian actually, and everyone calls him Sake, exclusively. So much so, that even though he is currently a senior, I still have to look at the composite to remind myself his name is Nick!!!
There have been some really great nicknames in the time I’ve been at KA- and some I’ve never had the nerve to ask where they came from (the following story will explain why!!) i.e.- Woody (from wildwood), Dumper (not ever asking), the Butt – he’s in the above photo, Donkey (don’t know, don’t want to know) . And some very obvious ones, too -Handsome Rob, Black Jackson and Fat Joe come straight to mind.
When I first got to KA, there was a boy there (above photo, second from the left) who was really the first boy to talk to me. He would come into the kitchen, sit on the counter and we would chat about movies, tv, all kinds of things. I have no idea where I first heard someone call him “Chang”, but it made sense to me, as he is Asian,and I assumed it was his last name (it is not). So, for many weeks, when he came into the kitchen I would say “Good morning, Chang”, “Hello, Chang”, you get the picture- I called him Chang. Until one day, when he came into the kitchen, sat on the counter and the following exchange took place-
me: “Good Morning, Chang”
Chang: “hi Jo- hey, you know my name isn’t Chang, right? It’s my nickname”
me: “yeah, I know, it’s your last name, Brandon Chang is your name”
Chang “No, my name is Brandon Uy, not Brandon Chang”
me: “Why does everyone call you Chang”
Chang: “Chang is the name of my penis”
I inquired as to why Brandon waited all those weeks, all those weeks of me saying Chang this, or Chang that, before letting me know this rather interesting fact about his nickname and I was told he just could never find the right way to tell me- I think he did just fine with his explanation, and only wish it had come the second time I called him Chang, not the 50th!!!!
I always ask now, when there’s a questionable nickname “Is that a name I should not be saying for any reason”. Better to know right off than to say “chang” for weeks before finding out it’s the name of a boys penis!!!!
Thank you, Brandon, for being my first real friend at KA and for giving me such a great story- I tell it every year.