Do you ever hear nicknames of someone that is not quite close to their given name and wonder where it came from? How did the name become a part of that person? Who gave it? Is it sentimental, silly, or just is?
People wonder that about me, but don’t always ask. I love the story of my nickname.
My mom originally wanted to name me Amelia Beth, but my dad had a hard time with Amelia and so she changed it to Nancy Carol. Nancy was from a lady she met at a church revival and Carol, well, that was from Carol Burnett. I never lived that one down. I cringed when my mom would call me Nancy Carol. I felt like that was an old lady’s name.
Nicknames were big in my family. I guess that’s a Kentucky thing. My oldest brother, James, is Jimbo. My next brother, closest to me in age, is Terry, but we called him Chubby (because he was a chunky baby). I shortened it to Chubs over time. When I was brought home from the hospital, Chubs, nearly 4 at the time, asked my mom why she named ‘THAT BABY NANCY’. He said he hated the name and even asked my mom to take me back to the hospital. To his dismay, I stuck around. Chubs decided he liked the name Micki. My name came from the character ‘Mickey’ played by Robert Blake from the “The Little Rascals,” who was later convicted of murder. Thanks a lot, Chubs! Thankfully, my mom changed the spelling so it would be more feminine. Most folks thought I was named after Mickey Mouse. <insert eyeroll> Chubs refused to call me Nancy. There was no convincing him otherwise.
Chubs struggled to adapt to the idea he was no longer the baby. I quickly took his place and all my mom’s attention, or so my brother thought. And I was a girl. Double yuck.
Chubs sold me to a lady at my church for a quarter. He told the lady he didn’t want me in his house anymore. Mrs. Catherine Cates, God rest her soul, gave Chubs a quarter. However, he was confused when she didn’t take me home. Throughout the rest of her life she always said I belonged to her.
When I was eight months old, my two brothers were fighting instead of watching me. Typical. I rolled off the bed and got a concussion. One time Chubs wanted to give me a bath. He put Ben Gay in my eyes to try to blind me. Can you tell he did not like me? We truly fought like cats and dogs. I pity my poor saint of a mother and all the summers she had to endure our fights. Crazy thing is I’m still alive to tell the story because I think it was debatable some days.
I went through my school years as Micki, even though that was legally not my name. Since they had to include Nancy somewhere, my school records were Micki N. Worked for me.
As I became an adult, I never grew tired of hearing those stories. We would laugh about all the torture I endured. All of that truly made me stronger. I really didn’t have much of a choice. It was a ‘do or die’ situation. If I went down, I went down with a fight.
While we fought horrifically growing up, Chubs was a quiet, beautiful soul to me as an adult. When I was planning my wedding to my hunka hunka, I asked Jimbo and Chubs to be my ushers. While Jimbo is very outgoing, I knew it was a big deal for Chubs to be in front of people as he was one who enjoyed seeing others in the spotlight. When he said yes, I knew he was doing it for me.
I lost my brother in 2008 at only 38 years old, way too young. I remember a friend emailing me as soon as she heard the news. All she could say was, “God needed an extra buddy in Heaven.” I remember sitting with my sweet mom at the funeral home. Someone brought up our childhood, and all of our fighting. (Seriously…the fighting was that bad! Ha.) Mom said, “I could never keep those two from fighting each other, but let someone else say something bad about the other, and they were ready to fight that person. As much as they fought, they would always fight for the other.” During my brother’s last hours, I knew that was a battle I couldn’t fight for him. I had to let him go.
When someone today calls me Micki, I know it’s either someone in my family, or someone from my childhood. I always smile. While Chubs despised my pure existence and thought it was a bad thing to call me something different, he gave me a name I would forever cherish.
Next time you hear someone called by a nickname, take the time to ask about it. You may be surprised. If it’s a sentimental story, they will love to share, as I just did. Or it may be one of those embarrassing names one can never live down. Either way, you’ll know.
Peace out, trout!