Tuesday, March 20, 2012

# 233 - Nickname Madness

Families usually have nicknames for their loved ones. Sometimes we don't want to be called these wondrous names, other times, they are better than the legal names we were born with.

My brother is one of these people who was given a nickname upon his birth. He's my "little" brother and he's my "Bubba."

Yep, that's what we've always called him in my family, "Bubba."

Even my daughters call him "Uncle Bubba."

Isn't there a saying that every Southerner knows a "Bubba?" If so, I guess it's true.

In the picture above, that's my sister with my brother. We call her "Robin." But, that's not her legal name. However, we just recently discovered that many people who've been in our family for years didn't  know this fact about her. She's never used her legal first name...not even for work. We began calling her "Robin" when she was about six weeks old because she had begun to whistle in her crib. I've never seen such a thing before or since her whistling baby days.

She whistled for a few weeks, as a newborn baby, then she stopped. By the time she quit whistling, everyone in the neighborhood had been called to witness her amazing feat and she was dubbed the little singing "Robin." It seemed, for a time, instead of crying, she had begun whistling. After a while, she figured out the voice part of the equation. But, she never really cried. She was probably one of the happiest babies I've known. And, I've had a couple of my own. Regardless, her nickname stuck.

She's a school counselor and an amazing woman. She's only 36 years old --- I'm the older sister of both of those critters.

Here in Texas, sisters often call each other "Sissy." Robin is my "Sissy" and I'm her "Sissy." When we are speaking about each other, we frequently refer to each other as "Sissy." Beyond that, when I'm talking with my youngest daughter about my oldest daughter, I ask, "Have you spoken with your Sissy?" We've got a lot of women around here referred to as "Sissy."

I never really understood that the name "Sissy" or "Sister" is extremely familiar here in the South until I saw Urban Cowboy many, many years ago for the first time. Then, I began to pay closer attention to my grandmother and how she called certain loved ones "Sister." I realized that this is a learned nickname that is passed down for generations, just as is "Bubba." Sissy or Sister is a term of endearment in the South, the same as saying, "Sweetheart" or "Baby." And you do call your sister "Sissy" or "Sister." It's a sign, in our family, of loyalty.

Below is another picture of my Bubba a few years ago --- as he's having a ball at his favorite place, Big Bend. These days, he still looks the same, even though he's officially 40 years old. He's joined me in the realm of 40-something fun.

The last photo shows my brother with his best-friend and buddy, Chris. My brother is the hairy guy in the hat and his friend is the bald, shirtless guy. Chris is called "Chris." If he were born into my family, hardly anyone would know him by his legal name. I can only imagine what we would've called him.

I am starting to think that my family had reason to hide our names from society. It's not that I'm actually becoming paranoid or concerned about my family consistently using concealed identities with "nicknames," but I do kind of feel sorry for certain in-laws and out-laws who have been in the family for approximately 20 years, yet are just finding out that our names are not our legal names.

Their shocked expressions and squinting eyes at the revelation showed a conveyance of them feeling betrayed. What? Come on! You didn't know Robin wasn't really named "Robin?" You never heard the story about the whistling? Oops!

It's okay, we'll still be calling her Robin for the next 36 years, I promise. The nickname is her identity. The same for the rest of us. It is what it is.

As for these two guys, they served in the Marines together. My brother served in the Middle East and that was a horrific time in our family. Military service impacts everyone in the family. My heart always goes out to every military family out there. The way I see it, each family member is also serving their country in sacrifice. Since my brother didn't actually have a brother, he claimed Chris as a brother. They've been through some very...interesting...times together.

For any of you out there who have had a brother, I'm sure you understand.

The nicknames apply to pretty much everyone around's a way of life. As for me, I answer to "Woman" since my husband likes to call me that in a low tone reminiscent of a caveman. It's kind of cute and sexy, in a historical archaic kind of manner. Until...the day my youngest daughter reached about three years old and began calling me "Woman" in a contrived deep voice that had all of us in hysterics. I think she thought it was my name.

Did it stop him from calling me "Woman?" Absolutely not. In fact, to this day, my NOW 21 year old Stefie frequently uses that deep, powerful voice to call me by this nickname. It still cracks me up. The only difference is...she's 21 now, so I get to use it right back at her.



Mike said...

Nicknames. Well, you know what I call my woman.

I'm also, an Uncle Bubba and called Sam, for my uncanny resemblence to Sam Elliot. There's a few others that don't go over well in mixed company. (a guy thing for sure)

We don't use, 'sissy' in these parts. Well, not for girls. ;)

Charade said...

I always wanted a sister, but I don't think I would have called her Sissy. My imaginary sister is named Charlemagne. Don't ask where that came from, as I have no idea. ;-)