Nicknames: I would sell a kidney to be called kitten

Published 12:02pm Friday, March 16, 2012

This is all very depressing because I’ve always longed to have a nifty nickname. As a teen, I knew a spunky, good-looking girl who, because her last name was Charles, was called by everyone, ‘Charlie.’ I thought that was terribly sexy and tomboyish all rolled into one. A strawberry blond on the tennis team with long, tawny legs, was known as ‘Cricket.’ On television, ‘Father Knows Best’ was in re-runs and featured a handsome Robert Young, affectionately calling his children, ‘Buddy, Princess and Kitten.’
I would sell a kidney to be called Kitten.
Because ‘Kitten’ conjures up images of a very young Anne Margret in tight capri pants and tousled hair, doing the twist next to Elvis. If you’re ‘Kitten,’ you’re a petite, glamorous gal, maybe a gangster’s mol, but all in all, very desirable.
So dream as I might, Kitten will never be appropriate for a woman who is always the one to be asked to reach and retrieve a box of cereal on a grocery shelf by a person of far shorter stature.
And it’s probably a bit late for me to be given a nickname now, anyway. I’m imagining that most are received in one’s youth. Although it makes me wonder just how many may have been cunningly self-appointed. Had I, on the first day of school in first grade, thought about it, I could have simply made one up on the spot to last me a lifetime when the teacher called roll. Having a last name that began with ‘S,’ I would have had plenty of time to ponder the perfect one.
“Peterson?” Miss Glover would be calling out. “Lillian Peterson?”
“Here!”
“Roberts? Phillip Roberts?”
“Here!”
Approaching would be my turn! Heart beating, the pressure on, I would blurt out the name most meaningful to a horse crazy child.
“Stone? Pam Stone?”
“Here! But,” I would add with confidence. “Everyone calls me Trigger.”
And who knows what kind of life I might have had being called Trigger? It’s a name that’s a little tough, a little dangerous. It might have given me a layer of confidence, sorely lacking through an appalling puberty: “Look out, here comes Trigger.” “Hey, Trigger, wanna go to a movie?” “Let’s ask Trigger, she’ll know.” With a name like that maybe I would have made the track team, or written detective novels or been a sports commentator.
Or maybe not.
Because, like most kids, my first job involved wearing a name tag.
And it’s hard to be self assured with a hair net and a paper hat and acne, shaking the grease out of the basket of fries over the deep fryer.
“Hey you,” barked the manager, all of four years older than myself. “Hurry up with that order, will ya?” and then, with a tone drenched in sarcasm:
“Trigger.”

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