I can do without nicknames, thank you

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2004

When you’re small they’re cute. Grow up and they haunt you. I never had one but only because I wouldn’t accept one. When I refused to answer and got silent (a rare thing) they relented and dropped the attempt. I’ll even tell you about it. I was named for my mother’s sister Florence. No one could say anything about her. She was beautiful. I found out early that didn’t slide over to me. Just her name.

But she was called Flossie, a horrible name as I visualized everything I saw – fields grass, and a shining dog. In the midst of this pictures a very large, fat cow – Flossie! Contented, I’m sure, but a cow! No way would Flossie come to me. So I never had a nickname. My brothers called me Sister and it stuck; but no cow!

Going on, Robert always becomes Bobby, Rob, Robby, Bob, or Bud. As a male adult at 6’2&uot;, broad shoulders (a gal’s dream). Bobby seems so out of place.

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My brother had a really crazy friend named Frank. My brother and others called him Fran. For the longest time we all thought Frank was a girl – until he came to dinner one night. I was positive Fran was no gal. He made a pass at me in the kitchen. So much for brother’s friend Fran.

Brother Michael had a friend called Stinky. I don’t know what I expected from this one, but he didn’t. Thank goodness or it would have been a long dinner.

The Kennedys carried nicknames graciously. The President carried the initials J.F.K. well. No on ever gave Bobby a hard time. I think brains a-plenty hold off nicknames. Am I taking a bow? Could be. I always said Mother didn’t raise stupid children. Any challenges?

Have you ever been humiliated introducing someone to an important person? Brother Michael and friend Stinky were playing cards one day. In came Father Tom, a dear, dear family friend. He said hello to all and said to Michael, &uot;I haven’t seen this boy here before, Michael. Is he a new friend?&uot; At that moment if a million dollars was put into Michael’s hand he couldn’t remember the proper name that belonged to Stinky. So he said, &uot;This is Stinky, Father.&uot; Not a second passed. Father Tom put out his hand and said, &uot;How do you do, Stinky? And they shook hands. Two real gentlemen.

Nicknames can haunt you. I went to college with a &uot;Mousie.&uot; To me, real stupid, but she didn’t mind. I would have. Another weird one in college – her name was Catherine. Her boyfriend called her Catherine the Great. (Hope she was) Then it became just &uot;Great.&uot; Can you imagine being called &uot;Great?&uot; We gave her a hard time once and got her crazy when we hinted it came from sexual prowess – which was nasty of us, but you know what they come up with in college.

Florence Arena is a resident of Hillcrest Retirement Center and a regular News-Herald columnist.