You Can Call Me Al But You Probably Won’t

Growing up, I never had a nickname. (Well, not to my face at least.) Maybe because my full name is Alexandra and most everyone already shortens it to Alex. A few people, like my gym teacher and dad, call me Al. I once convinced a boyfriend to call me Alexa. (I had a Billy Joel thing.)

But these are not NICKNAMES. Nicknames are based on WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU DO.

Alex is so cool we call her COOLIO.
Alex is so fun we call her FUNIO.

(Perhaps choosing nicknames is not my forte. But I am trying to convince my husband to call me Funio. Just for like a week.)

So really it’s been Alex. And perhaps in response to my lack of cool names, my children have a series of names that we call them. I use their full name only to let people know that they HAVE real names. And their middle names to let them know: Mama is NOT pleased.

We call E: Boo. Boo-boo (which my mom worried would give him a complex). Boo Bear. Twice I’ve yelled out in the playground: Come on over here Booby. (yes, it was mortifying.) Eggy (for like a day. then I put the cabash on that one). Silly man. Boolio. (Just kidding.)

We call N: Bean. Little Bean. Sweet Bean. Beaniac (accompanying: She’s a BEANIAC BEANIAC on the floor. And she dances like she’s never danced before.) Monkey. Fussy bucket (a bit ironic since she’s like the happiest baby… except on those days that she isn’t of course).

And while those nicknames may not be extraordinarily creative, they exist. And they are full of love. I think that’s why I always wanted a nickname. Because it meant someone knew me well enough to give me a loving name.

The closest that I got was in medical school. My study group friends all had nicknames: Yu Rock, Doogie, Mike D (Beastie Boys, hello?) and me, Grandma. I WAS TWENTY-FOUR. (But I was at least a year and a half older than everyone else in the group.)

Let’s stick with Funio.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

28 thoughts to “You Can Call Me Al But You Probably Won’t”

  1. Sadly, the only “loving” nickname my family gave me as a child was “Porky”. These days I prefer Fatio.

    I've just recently found your blog. LOVE it.

  2. I never had a nickname either – except for shortening Deborah down to 'Debbie'. Nowadays I go simply by Deb.

    Our girls have nicknames though – I can't seem to call them by their own names unless I'm mad at one of them, lol. 😉 Abby is called Munchkin (or some form thereof), Hannah is either Hannah Banana or Peanut, and Becca is usually either Punkin or Boo. 🙂

  3. Everyone close to us knows our daughter as “The Gnome.” We often refer to things as “gnometastic!”, “gnome-friendly” and “gnome-approved.” I often refer to her as Gnome on Facebook and when I finally used her real name I had a friend comment that she thought her real name was Gnome. 🙂

    I love reading your blog. Your honesty about motherhood makes me feel better as a mother – especially your post about breastfeeding. I hated it too but did it because I loved my daughter. Thanks!!

  4. Do you remember your parents giving you nicknames? I am Ceci at home, Seal with my h.s. friends, hey you with my brother…my husband and I have a secret nickname for each other that we only use when no one else is within earshot, but sometimes our 6 year old will catch it, and will use it on us when he wants to catch our attention!

  5. My mom's side of the family decided they didn't like my name – not ethnic enough – and so they gave me one of their own and I've been called that since. One of them called my apartment one day and My Guy picked up the phone, and when they asked for me by the name they gave me, he answered as anyone would, that they had the wrong number but they tried back again – three times.
    I wasn't home and exasperated by their persistence, he related me the story and that's when I realized that clearly, I didn't tell him EVERYTHING about me.

  6. Growing up with already an interesting name I had an art teacher (Mr. Hofeck…I KNOW, right?) that though it would be funny to call me Truck-uh. Amusing. Especially when you are a 7th grader and worried about being the size of a truck-uh. After that it was Chara Q. (Quinnelly is my maiden name), Curly Q., Curly (again, leave it to teachers that are the most unique). Though I have to hand it to the hubs…The Schmoo. I've been Schmoo even before we were married. I added in Fabulous though so I prefer the full title of The Fabulous Schmoo.

  7. I have a very boring name which cannot really be shortened either. When my daughter was a baby we called her smidge short for smidgen because she was so small and although we tried out other nicknames and variations on her real name this is the only one that has stuck, although now we tend to call her Smidgey. I think it suits her.

  8. I love nicknames. My name doesn't lend itself well, though. My family always called me “Jan,” but that was just my aunts, really. My husband doesn't have any special name for me, nor I for him. But I do go crazy with the nicknames for my kids. It's fun. The one I have for my son has “aroo” on the end. Now we tend to add “aroo” to a lot of things in our house. Do you need a “change-aroo?” Are you “sick-aroo?” One day he'll get upset about this, but not yet.

  9. I call my daughter fuss-bucket sometimes, much like your fussy bucket. But she's not really fussy. And I'm not sure where I got the “bucket”, because isn't the word really “fussbudget”? Where did you get the bucket part? Is it just a common corruption of a common phrase? I have a nickname for my husband and I was quite chagrined to hear it applied to someone on a reality show…

  10. I have a friend whose first born is also known as “the terrorist” – a problem in airports. Some nicknames may be more nick then name.

  11. I got a Boo Boo too. He's going to hate me in short order. My mom used to call me Belladonna which evidently is a poisonous plant that will kill you. I wish I was that powerful, I'm more like bad milk – you'll just get mildly sick, or maybe salmonella. Yeah, I could totally rock Salmonella.

  12. You and I: same boat. Alex, Alexandra, Sandy, San.

    How funny how each different nickname stirs up a different personality in me. Nicknames do that, remind you of who you are.

    My favorite? What my college boyfriend would call me when I'd answer the phone hello, “Hey, Sans…”

    Loved it. I can still hear it in my head.

    What's your favorite nickname for Alexandra, Alexandra??? 🙂

    1. My cousin was a Sandy. No one ever broke that out for me. I like Alex… especially with my long and arduous last name, I just can’t pull off Alexandra. And of course Big Al always cracks me up! What about you?

  13. you can have too much and you can have too little. I've had a nickname since birth which bears no relation to my name, cocoy, and derives from the fact that as I baby I resembled a coconut. It's so widely used some people don't know my real name. Eventually my nickname got it's own nickname; cookie, which for some reason was spelled as Kuki. So I started signing off emails as “k” which in spanish (my language) sounds like Ka. then we moved to cambodia where the tradition is to use the last yillable of the name, which in my case was “ca” (and sounds like “ka”)full circle!

    my kids all have 100 nicknames. it's a family thing.

  14. I was pretty nicknameless as a child. Everyone assumed that “Mandy” was shortened from “Amanda” when, in actuality, my mom just loved Barry Manilow. After high school my group of friends starting calling me Mandalion because…my hair resembled a dandalion puff?

    I call my daughter the Dimpled Dictator, Baby, and Little Love. I call my son Baby ('cause we're annoying like that), Mr. Dawson and George. Interestingly enough, we rarely – if ever – shorten their given names of Joseph and Elizabeth. That would just be too…easy.

    1. Um, I LOVE that you are named after Barry Manilow. And nicknamed after a dandelion puff.
      It could’ve been worse — what if you had been born in the 90s and mom had like Tesla or C&C Music Factory. Hmm would’ve have been a tough name. I like Mandy! And there are NO songs about Alex. Or Grandma. (except getting run over by a reindeer)

  15. To think that we called you Grandma when you were 24. Now that I'm 28 what does that make me? At least you'll always be older than I am 🙂

  16. Great post, Funio. =>

    My son's nickname has evolved into Booger Bear, ironically (and thankfully) through no association with actual boogers. I prefer this name to Bubba, though, which is the nickname I myself unwittingly gave him (much to my chagrin) in those first foggy, sleep-deprived months.

  17. I'm no good at nicknames, either..we've got a pumpkin head and a Natalie Bear…not too creative.

    PS Are you in love with Disqus? It is blocked for me during the day, and I always pop over, have something genius to say, and then I can't. And, it makes me sad! There's my 2 cents.

    1. Creative shmeative. I like them! (of course, I like Funio and currently have two people calling me that.)

      PS. You are the third person to have problems. So POOF it’s gone! Thank you for letting me know. And I’m sorry that it’s been such a pain!

  18. OK, I always wanted a good nickname when I was young… Got a lot when I was older (starting at 20). never liked any of them until my buddy in Boston gave me the one that has stuck scince ’95, KISSMike. He had a lot of friends named Mike so he called me KM. Everyone he knows calls me that…

  19. I do not have a nickname. Our 2nd and 3rd child have names that lend themselves to various short forms, the 1st child’s name could only be shortened to something akin to calling me Sar. Aside from frequently calling the boy “Buddy” we don’t have consistent names for our kids.
    In my family we had “baby names” things that were only used while we were little. My mother used to call my dad “honey” but from a 2 year old me who said “warty” instead of “water,” “honey” became “horny” so they had to stop saying it! Maybe that’s why there were never any other nick names!
    .-= Cranky Sarah´s last blog ..I’d like to blame the tears on allergies =-.

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