My cyber-sister Baino was recently ruminating on the Aussie predilection to shorten everyone's birth-given name to a nickname.
If its not been given the big "O" treatment - Thommo, Deano, Baino, Robbo, Daddyo; it's the "Ee" ending - Ready, Barnsey, Millsy; or the US-influenced "Ster" finale - Rodster, Jillarooster or Kenster.
More creative nicknames have been introduced - 'Bluey' for red-haired blokes or the more modern 'Fanta pants'; 'Sticks' for a tall guy I used to pick apricots with; 'Mudguts' for another picker who was wider than he was tall and loved to sleep under his ute at lunchtimes; and 'Donger' for a young guy who..... well, I wasn't interested enough to find out.
Naturally, it sent my own mind a-musin' on some of the names I've been called over time. No, I don't mean those that have been yelled out at me from passing P-plated cars, fellow drivers or personal enemies; but those given to me in the normal course of life.
I was a chubby-faced baby, so my folks called me 'Bubbles' after an SANFL player who had the same feature. This 'endearment' still sometimes slips out of my mother's mouth at inopportune moments. One was when Love Chunks still just 'the boyfriend' and thus still on his bestest most polite behaviour with my parents and sleeping over in the boys' room when we visited their place. Mum slipped back in time over a decade and whispered to me, "Goodnight Bubblees."
Desecrating my rather nice full first name - Katherine to Kath-urine - thanks to little bro dave. There's not much I can do with 'David' in return, is there, so I just tended to call him a turkey. Dad's always fond of reminding me of the time when I was eighteen, and home from uni for the weekend. All he overheard was me saying to Dave, "Look, I've only been home for five minutes and I'm already sick of the sight of you, you turkey."
Bauble - this one I hated, really hated. This one was thanks to my bigger - and therefore stronger, cleverer and more evil - brother Robert, who likened the end of my nose to Rudolph's. He was right - it looked as though the creator had stuck a ping pong ball on the end of my schnozz and painted it a pale pink colour. At eight years old however, the moniker made me cry and I didn't yet have the mental capacity (or the physical speed to escape the inevitable dead leg punishment he would have dealt out) to call him 'Rob the Knob' in return or to make a joke of it before anyone else did.
Cackles - earned from my Dad, during my teenage years. Like most girls, I seemed to have spent all of 1982 through to 1986 laughing, snorting or giggling. Usually at someone else's expense. Sometimes 'Cackles' was shortened to the less-than-cute 'Cack' by Dad or any other member of the family whenever it suited. "Cack, where did you put the keys to the volvo?" or "Ca-a-a-a-a-ck, it's your turn to weed the gardens today."
With 'Read' as my surname, I got 'Katherine reads by the river' or 'Katherine is a reed by the river' for most of primary school. 'Read' was also a source of hilarity for my students in the brief time I was teaching high school English until Mark Chopper Read's infamy spread beyond those he, ahem, disposed of. Then it was 'Chopper' from then on. And no, he's no relation. That I know of.....
During one confusing week whilst employed as a 'Graduate Trainee' at the ANZ bank, I received three bunches of flowers delivered at work plus a visit from an interested suitor from the university across the road. This was the only time of my life that it seemed to pour men - normally they were few and far on the horizon. Despite this - and settling, eventually, for none of them - I was called 'Stud' for the remainder of my time at the bank. I still blush just writing about it.
Finally, when I got married to my super special squeeze Love Chunks, my surname changed to 'Lockett', so I went from being called 'Chopper' to 'Plugger'. Just as feminine and as flattering. *sigh*