Listening to NPR as I was doing my housework today I heard a feature that I have never heard before called “Homework.” The host give the listeners an assignment to write about and then the following week they read the results. This week, they solicited stories about nicknames. What is your nickname? How did you get it? Do you like it?
Of all the names I have been called over the years, I think that only two possibly qualify as nicknames and I really didn’t care for either of them. My first nickname was given to my by a councilor at the Boy Scout summer camp I attended as a kid. The man could not, for some reason, pronounce my surname. It’s not as if Berg – Quist is all that hard, but he murdered it every time he called roll for his class at camp. One day after I had won a camp cooking competition and in complete frustration over having to pronounce it, he just called “Bisquick, You here?” and the name stuck. People called me “Bisquick” for years. (With apologies to General Mills, it is a horrible name and I hated it!)
The only other time I have ever been given a nickname it was by one of my trainees when I was working as the training coordinator for the product line I used to support. We were on an installation trip and at dinner one night she was quizzing me on why we had done some of the things that we had done. She then started comparing notes with another colleague at the table and they both started discussing something that we all understood but calling it by the wrong name. I corrected the misidentification of the product and the moved onto the next topic.
Later in the evening, she used another wrong word while telling a humorous story. The other two of us at the table stared at her blankly at the conclusion of her story and she repeated the punch line again using the wrong word. Suddenly I realized the word that she had probably meant and said did you mean to say “_____” (supplying the correction for her malapropism) and chuckled at the story which, with the substitution was, indeed, funny.
“Well get you, Webster!” she said with frustration. I looked at her puzzled. “I’m referring to the dictionary, not the TV show!” she added, “You’re a walking dictionary!” She was smiling when she said it and I thought (or at least I have convinced myself) that she meant it at least partly, as a compliment so it didn’t bother me as much as my earlier nickname had.
Wherever you are today, I hope you are having a great day!
Don Bergquist – January 19, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA