Dad and his band of brothers liked to make up nicknames for people they encountered in life. Old Dan Fiddler was quite a character who frequented our Grandmother’s farm while the boys were growing up. The boys would sit at the dinner table and stare at him, which Dan hated. Then they would call him “Darko Dan” which absolutely enraged him, and the fun and the trouble would begin.
When we lived in Chicago, we had a neighbor who was large and not very bright. Dad nicknamed him ‘Big Stoop’. One day when Dad and my sister were returning home, the large man was sitting outside. My sister was a little girl and said quite loudly:
Hey, Dad. There’s Big Stoop!
Needless to say, poor Dad was embarrassed and quickly went inside.
His brother Harley also loved to give people nicknames. One such nickname of course was ‘Uncle Stepdad‘, Harley and Dad’s brother Kenny, who remarried after he dumped our mother. Kenny’s new wife had a voice like a bird and repeated conversations over and over. Thus Uncle Harley gave her the moniker of “The Parrot”. He would imitate her voice and we all laughed uproariously. He said that he was surprised she didn’t eat crackers by the box full.
You know….Polly want a cracker?
he would say to us time and again.
I also have the knack for giving people notorious nicknames and I often wonder if it all started when I was young and called my sister “Sma.” When Charles and I first moved into our house, one of our neighbors never spoke to us. Thus his name became ‘Conehead’ (a Saturday Night Live reference). Later I decided to give our neighbors names that began with ‘S’ and ended with Joe. It all began with our always smoking neighbor ‘Smokey Joe’ who is married to ‘Sloppy Joe’. Then we have ‘Sassy Joe’ and her husband ‘Shorty Joe’. Neighbors to the south are ‘Snoopy Joe’ and ‘Skinny Joe’. Across the street we have ‘Spooky Joe’ and her husband ‘Slow Joe’.
We never use these names in public because we would never want to hurt their feelings or start laughing uncontrollably. It has been a fun little game but I always wonder, what exactly do they call us? Now that’s scary!