Nicknames are an odd thing in Australia; a lot of surnames abbreviated, then have ‘O’ added on. While other surnames are extended with a ‘Y’. Aussie Rules footballers have some hilarious and extraordinary nicknames.
Sometimes you earn a nickname, sometimes they’re bestowed upon you; I love Greg Davies talking about a friend from school called Bagdhad.
You know that I use Emily Eleanor as a nom de plume to honour my Grandmothers. In real life I’m Maddie, short for Madeline. The name most used for me now is an abbreviation of my full name, ‘Mads’. I sign emails with it, people I work with use it, my friends call me it. I can even remember when it was first used, my heart leapt because I had a nice nickname at last.
I’ve had others, like Flipper, for the amount swimming and the size of my feet, which I hated. You take the piss out of my feet and I still have a hard time with it. My feet serve me well. I tramp about on them for hours – but they made me an easy target at school for relentless bullying. One well-meaning, but misguided, teacher dragged me out in front of the class when I was 7 or 8, with the shortest person and had us stand next to each other, comparing feet sizes. Hot, fat tears spilling onto my cheeks at the time. (How odd, I can feel the roar of shame as I’m typing this and see the blue carpet in the classroom). I didn’t want to be noticed, I wanted to hide. The teacher made it worse in showing how different we were.
I’ve also been called Sassy, which I thought was OK. Until I was told it was for Sasquatch as I’m ‘too tall for a girl’. In senior school I was taller than some of the teachers. In a world of Teams and Zoom calls, my height often surprises people when they meet me for the first time, it’s 5′ 10″ or 177cm.
Maddie Man Hands.
Hyena – as I laugh loud and wide.
Another name I earned and worked hard for? Mama. I wear that one with huge pride.
Maybe a nickname is earned for that one thing, that one time, that no-one will let you forget; or it’s an abbreviation of your name. If you’re giving a nickname to someone else – be kind.