You would think that one’s name is a pretty good identifier. In the old days, when there weren’t that many people around, we only needed one name. You were John, or Sally. Then there were more people, and not so many more names, so all of a sudden there were two Sallies in the town. Which was which? We got last names. Sally number one, whose father was a baker became Sally Baker. And Sally number two, whose father was a farmer, became Sally Farmer. You get the idea. And it went from there.
Today, if you are Joe J. Smith, people know who you are. Not that you’re famous because you are Joe J. Smith, but because they know you by your name. It’s your label. That is, it’s your formal identification.
But these labels are often customized. These custom versions of a name provide a more personal picture of who you are. Nicknames are sometimes given in love, but sometimes with disdain. Lets focus on love. And if you must know, as I child I was given a nickname by a group of dolts at school that proved to be a great nuisance.
My brother’s name is James, but we all called him Jamie until he went to middle school. Then he was James. My oldest daughter is Lindsay. We call her Lindz. My other daughter is Hannah. I call her HB. Or just H. All loving nicknames.
Sometimes people go by a middle name. My nephew does. He’s Lake. Or, people may prefer a derivative. Katherine is Kate.
Knowing all of this about names didn’t help me the other day. I was told that Charlie would be there to help me move a big piece of furniture I bought for my antique store. Great I thought. Save my back and shoulder and let Charlie do the manhandling. Big, strong Charlie.
Never occurred to me that Charlie was Charlotte! And this Charlotte would never be mistaken for a man. She had a good grip in her handshake so I was relieved a little. What she lacked in muscle power she had in helpfulness and determination. Between the two of us we managed to get the thing out of the store, down the sidewalk and into my truck.
In the end it didn’t matter that Charlotte was a girl. And for the most part it doesn’t matter what our names are. They mean something to those giving them, and we accept and adapt. It’s our name. Or change it.
We all answer to something. And nicknames can be fun. Have you ever heard the he-man’s sweet wife call him bubby bear? Love.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?