Now here’s the thing: in New Zealand and Australia, men have an insatiable need to show that another fella is ‘one of their gang’ by giving him a nickname. It’s a badge of honour, a sign that you belong.
In the world of sport – the world in which Tristan operates – the need to give male friends and colleagues nicknames is a burning fire that burns bright in most manly breasts. Tristan works with an assortment of men who don’t seem to call anybody else by their christian name, preferring instead to add a ‘y’ or an ‘o’ to each name (and using surnames if necessary, but also with a ‘y’ or an ‘o’ added). However, some men do have pun-tastic nicknames (my common law brother-in-law, Andrew, is also know as ‘Hemi’ because, when combined with his surnames, it gives you a great word that manages to also hint at something to do with bottoms, which is deeply pleasing. And ‘Hemi’ sounds Maori, and Maori nicknames are great if you’re a white Kiwi. The other week Vickie sent us a housewarming card and indicated on the envelope that the senders were ‘Wiki and Anaru’, and now I just want to call them that forever.
Actually, I have two friend-specific nicknames – my friend Dorday calls me ‘Mary’ because I used to wear natty little skirt suits to work, which reminded her of Mary Tyler Moore. And I have called her ‘Dorday’ for two decades because her name is Debbie and, when we were younger, this woman used to do her own TV ads for a shady nightclub, and had that name. And my friend Lenka calls me ‘Magda’, which dates back eight or nine years to a time when we were both living in London and she broke up with a Kiwi guy who subsequently started seeing a Polish girl, leading her to jokingly wonder what Polish girls had to offer that she didn’t, and speculating about whether or own luck with men would improve if she pretended to be Polish. We ended up weaving ludicrious and totally ill-informed tales about what our lives would be like if we were Polish (we hadn’t been to Poland), and decided that ‘Lenka’ and ‘Magda’ were good Polish names. Her real name is Anna, but we still write each other emails and cards with our Polish names. The point of this digression is to acknowledge that women give each other nicknames too (and also that there’s usually a better story behind our nicknames – we don’t resort to just adding a random letter to a name and thinking that we’re being really awesome).
Anyway, after a month or so at his new office Tristan’s manager – ‘Bully’ – enquired about whether he had a nickname. Tristan replied that he didn’t, although some people use the abbreviation ‘Tris’ (although I don’t, for some reason). We’re not sure why, but Bully seems to have decided against following the crowd and also using ‘Tris’. He continues to try to find a suitable name. Apparently he has trialled ‘Tristo’, but it hasn’t caught on (and just as well, if you ask me – it sounds ridiculous). I think that the office has also tried, but failed to stick to, ‘TC’, which are Tristan’s initials and which has been used for him by a colleague at an earlier job.
I had said to Tristan that I was happy to email Bully with some suggestions. For example, a favourite nickname between Tristan and me is ‘Monkey’ – we both use it, and sometimes, if we’re feeling racy, we might make it more elaborate by turning it into ‘Monkey Bum’. We also use it for Tui, calling her ‘Monkey Pup’. Actually, the list of Tui’s nicknames could fill an entire blog entry, so we won’t get into that just now. And ‘Pickle’ – that’s another random word that we’ve turned into a catch-all household nickname (Tui is ‘Pickle Pup’). If you want to be really affectionate, you could call your spouse ‘Monkey Pickle’.
I was discussing this issue with my friend Anthea yesterday and she came up with a few suggestions. I’ve listed them below, and added a couple of generic suggestions as well. Do let me know if you have any bright ideas, won’t you?*
- ‘Bucko’ – one of my ideas, and one which Tristan continues to ignore. The problem with it is that it lends itself well to being used while giving somebody a dressing-down – “Well let me tell you, Bucko, that you’re dead wrong!” – but not so much for anything like “Bucko, you’re a genius – you should lead our team and have a payrise”.
- ‘Sonny-Jim’ – again, one of my generic suggestions, and one that has shades of Bucko about it.
- ‘Mr T’ – one of Anthea’s suggestions (as are all the remaining names on this list). I fear that Tristan’s too small and white to carry this off.
- ‘T-miester’ – simple, yet effective.
- ‘T-time’ – random, yet simple and effective.
- ‘T Bone’ – superb if Tristan decides to branch out as a porn star.
- ‘T Rex’ – my absolute favourite, and it would probably suggest a quick temper and a strong likelihood of storming around on the rampage, which might make people quake in fear when they see him.
- ‘Trissy wissy woo wah’ – this should probably be the nickname of last resort.
Seriously, what would you call this handsome devil?
Maybe the simple, yet accurate ‘Handsome Devil’?
* (I should probably point out that Tristan is perfectly happy without a nickname and is unlikely to use any of them, although I could always just email Bully myself with a few ideas…)