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  • September 23rd, 2008 | 6:59 AM
Tuesday Memory Challenge

Nicknames and best friends.

I had neither.

I know that sometimes nicknames are cruel and kids use them as a way to tease one another but I don't remember hearing many of those. I do remember hearing those shortened versions of a name, those fun and sometimes funny names that were obviously bestowed upon a friend with whom there was a shared memory or two, a history. I so wanted that. Somehow in my head a nickname meant you belonged somewhere, that people noticed you when you were there and would notice when you were gone. As it was I drifted on the sidelines.

Best friends. The partner in crime and tears through-out childhood. Or so I'm told. Since we lived with my grandmother for most of my childhood, we were in the old folks neighborhood and I was the only kid around. There were people at school I hung around with but after school they all walked home together to their neighborhoods, playing outside, together, until they were called for dinner. Sometimes I went to play with Teresa and Leanne but it was obvious they had a special relationship because they lived close. Kathleen was a friend because her mother and my mother were best friends. So we would play together when they got together but otherwise didn't know much about what was going on in each other's lives. For a while Jan lived next door, maybe a year or two, and I tried so hard to be her friend but it didn't fly, didn't last.

There was one girl that I think was my best friend at the time, those two years in Junior High, Jane Beesley. Or maybe it was Beasley. I don't remember. We spent all our time together and then she moved to go to school in Pleasant Hill and I stayed in Concord. We wrote letters, old fashioned handwritten letters that have been lost in one of my many moves. After my freshman year of high school the letters stopped and I don't know what happened to her. I've tried to find her via the reunion sites and such but no luck.

In high school there were people I knew, people I ate lunch with, people I did a few things with, but no one that wanted to be my special friend. (I am not posting this for anyone to feel sorry for me. This is just me remembering things.) The adult me can look back at the young me and realize that I was so afraid all the time that I probably telegraphed that and sent out "keep away" vibes.

Your turn. Did you have a nickname? A best friend? What do you remember?
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 14 comments — Leave comment )
September 23rd, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
I introduce myself as Jen most often now, but used to always call myself Jennifer. For most of childhood, I felt like I was "in" with someone when they started calling me Jen on their own.

This reminded me of an Education class I took...we were talking about nasty nicknames people had called us, and going around the room...one guy says "Son of Satan." He had the unfortunate circumstance of growing up as Damian in the late 70s/early 80s. :-)
September 30th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
Oh yikes on the "Son of Satan" what an unfortunate circumstance. :-)
September 23rd, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
Nicknames and best friends.
No one called me slatts as a kid or even a young adult. That was my Grandpa's and my uncle Donnie's nickname.

I didn't have any until I was in 5th or 6th grade. And that was a self-imposed one. Ralf. My friend and I had a "Rat Fink" Club. And we tried to come up with "R" names (so, our collective last name could be Fink).

I knew one or two kids from Immaculate Conception School that would still call me Ralf when we were in public high school. By this time, I didn't want that name. Fortunately, I didn't cross paths much with those folks and it faded.

I had one nicknamed friend. Ziggy. I think we thought of ourselves as Best Friends. We did a lot of things together. A lot of the "boys-will-be-boys" bad-things. We played with matches. Burned our plastic model cars. Made match-bombs to "blow up" G.I.Joes.

We later had our first cigarettes together. I stole two warm beers from my Grandmother to have our first drink together.

But when I stopped staying at my Grandmother's our friendship faded to "Hi!" in halls of school to nothing.

My best friends came and went as each phase of my life did. Which makes me think, did I ever really have a "Best Friend"? Aren't best friends the ones you have like "forever?"

Sometimes best friends were just the friends I was with at the time. Especially, as all my "best friends" only liked me but not my other "best friends." It was me and Donald. Or me and Mark. Or me and Johnny. But none of them liked each other.

Best friends came with bands and music. When I was in my first band, Walt was my best friend. And A.J. (there's another nickname or shortened name -- Alexander John). But when the band ended, we were just friends.

Sometimes as an adult, I felt you weren't even best friends at all. Yes, you did everything music with them --and sometimes that was a LOT with gigs and rehearsals-- but if didn't include music, you didn't do anything with them. And when the bands would end, sometimes you'd never see the people again.

I often wonder what best friends are.
September 30th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Nicknames and best friends.
Your band friends are the way I felt about all my skating friends. Away from the rink, I didn't see them. (Okay, except for when I was dating one of the guys. And the one girl. But other than that, not at all.)

And school friends I only saw at school.

When I was a young mom I was friends with all the other young moms in the neighborhood but when the kids were grown the friendships were gone.

I am pondering friendship a lot as I get older. I don't think I have been as good a friend in the past as I should have, could have, been. And that makes me wonder what kind of a friend I am being now.

Hmmm...introspection in that direction, not sure I want to go there.
September 23rd, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
I didn't have a real nickname, but got called all kinds of things because no one knew how to pronounce my name correctly. Hence, I was called pajamas, Jama of the Jungle, Jamaica, Jana, Hama, and Yama. Fed up with all of this, I renamed myself Lulu, and went through a phase when I wouldn't answer my parents unless they called me that.

I did have a best friend in grade school, Gail. We walked home from school together every afternoon and stopped at the B-Sweet candy store for snacks. We took our creamsicles, pistachio nuts, and shredded mango back to my house, where we would try on my mom's high heels and do fashion shows. This was kind of prophetic, as Gail grew up to be a fashion designer, and now owns a clothing business.
September 30th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought about it but I guess a hard to pronounce name is as difficult in its own was as a boring, common name like Susan is.

LOL on your friend Gail growing up to be what she practiced as a child.
September 23rd, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
In fourth grade, I was Tammi Cherry Cheeks b/c I blushed a lot. It might have something to do with the fact I spent most of that year crushing on boys.

By middle school, I was Hot Tamale. All of the girls in my class had a food-oriented code name, deemed necessary for our elaborate note-passing schemes.

My college friends still refer to me by my maiden name initials: TK.
September 30th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
Oooh, Hot Tamale! I love it!

I could be Susan Cherry Cheeks now because of this blasted Rosecea.
September 23rd, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
No best friends, really. I have them now but not really back then. However, I was nicknamed on the day of my birth, when the youngest of my elder brothers (M) apparently took one look at me and said "She looks like a wet kitten." (He was 7 at the time)

To this day, I am still Kitten to a few people, and Cat to most. My nickname grew up!
September 30th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I love this nickname story.
September 23rd, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Super Olive
When I was about 12 -- my then best friend called me Super Olive and even drew a poster of me as Super Olive -- It happened because I ate many/most of the olives at her house one day =)
September 30th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Super Olive
What a great nickname for a kid - Super Olive! With your own poster even.
September 24th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
I was Suzy to family only, only my sister calls me that now as my parents have passed, and I used to not like the name, but, of course, now I wish they were around to call me that all the time. Suze to my best friend in high school, and no matter how often I introduced myself as Susan, I still mostly hear people refer to me as Sue.
I took a french class in college years ago where there were so many Susans that the teacher doled out alternate names: Sue, Susan, Suzanne, Suzie, and finally ran out of Susan variations. Came to me and said I was "Barbara". All year long some people would say "Hi Barbara" and whoever I was walking with would be utterly confused.
September 24th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
Re: nicknames Suzy/Barbara
Just figured out the Open ID thing :)
( 14 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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