Are you known by another name?

Now I’m not looking for a list of aliases you may have available to you in the world of international espionage, although if there are any spies out there reading this, your secrets are safe with me, rather this is an exploration of the nickname.

I’ve had a few nicknames over the years.

I was known by Snowball, I didn’t drink when I started playing club cricket and that was the suggestion of a drink that the rest of the team had to get me started. As Fingers, I kept breaking my fingers when I was playing rugby in the late 90’s. I was The Elg with my friends until a throw away line from my dad made me the Son of Elg which my friends grabbed onto with vibrant gusto. I guess I’m The Elg again now. And currently at work, I go by Captain, not because of any seniority, rather because I’m a Star Trek Fan.

All of those nicknames came along because people recognised something about me, a trait that everyone knew about and could use to describe me. They all represent a shared shorthand for a group about one of its members and as such allows everyone to share in a specific detail that marks them out from everyone else.

A nickname, a pet name, they represent a level of familiarity. They show that someone has seen something about you. Granted, that may not be a trait that you may want to have highlighted but it’s something that everyone else can see.

That nickname is a potentially defining characteristic and it’s not something that should simply be ignored.

In my second novel, The Circle of Duty, one of the characters is given a nickname by the protagonist, becoming Leatherpants. It’s a description of what he wears but it’s also meant to create a level of absurdity. The character is at odds to the hero of the piece and the hero wants to be dismissive of him, thereby giving him the nickname. It allows that the main character removes a great level of the power that came with the person who was given the name.

A nickname is a shorthand moniker for someone, which can be bestowed with a smile or a snarl. It can be a great thing or, well, not so much. I guess the difference between the two is whether or not you know about it.

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