Do I know who? Oh yeah, of course, I know him! Who could forget! We go way back. Way back. Yeah, we used to call him Rodge, which is short for Roger. Yes, I know his name's not Roger. But his name's not Rodge either, so what are you gonna do?
We also used to call him Tex, because he was from Tex City, Minnesota. And we called him Dakota, because he was born on the border of two of the Dakotas—not sure which two, though. We called him Brooklyn, too, since he used to live only one block away from Brooklyn Avenue—that was back in Tex City, Minnesota.
We used to call him Champ, because he led the basketball team to the championships. Then we called him Let Down, because he let down the team when he missed the winning shot at the championships. Lesson: don't call someone Champ until they win the championship.
For a while there we called him Doc, because he'd perform any surgery you needed. You just had to generally describe it, and he’d grab the nearest dull knife and give it a go for a couple hours. That’s ol’ Doc for ya!
Then we called him Mr. Big Stuff, because, I tell ya, he thought he was such a hot shot. But then we changed that to calling him Hot Shot, because that was a better name for someone who thought they were a hot shot. We were still getting the hang of nicknames.
And we used to call him Birthday Boy, because the guy couldn’t go a year without having a birthday. Real spoiled like that.
We used to call him Einstein too, because he was always pushing us to develop an atomic bomb. “We’ll finally teach this dirty world a lesson. A lesson they’ll never forget!” “OK, settle down, Einstein!” we’d say.
For a minute there we called him Santa after he brought gifts to everyone. But we knew someone else who actually looked like Santa, with the white beard and belly and all, and let’s face it: having the look takes priority for getting called Santa. We tried calling him Gifty instead. It didn’t stick though: Gifty just doesn’t roll off the tongue, and he stopped giving us gifts anyways.
Back in the ‘90s, we called him College Boy because we all went to college together.
We also called him Killer because, to be honest with you, he killed a guy once, and we’ve been ribbing him about it ever since.
Oh yeah, I should mention: throughout all this, we would call him Sonny Boy whenever we were in-between nicknames. We all hated that nickname, so it really encouraged us to start looking for a new thing to call him as soon as possible.
We used to call him Buzz, because of that time he went to the moon with Neil Armstrong and another guy.
We also called him Whammo, because he took a job as a clown and Whammo was his clown name, and you always respect someone’s clown name.
Then we called him Angel because he was a real sweetheart, never did anything wrong. Plus, he had wings growing out of his back, and always told us to let him know if anyone from the Vatican holding a sack ever came looking for him.
From 2003 to 2006 we called him Mr. Stevie Nicks, because that’s when he was briefly married to Stevie Nicks.
A group of us used to call him the Chosen One, because we were in his cult. It was just part of the deal: you washed his elbows every morning, broke into people’s homes at his command, and called him the Chosen One. I mean you don't join someone's cult and not call them something exalted.
Then we ended up calling him Gifty after all. Some of the newer guys just found a way to make it work.
Then we entered a period of reflection. We took a good look in the mirror. And we asked ourselves, “What is this need we have to assign nicknames to people?” You take a person’s autonomy away from them when you strip them of their identity like that. You deny them their fullness—their depth, their contradictions, their multitudes. Maybe we do it because we’re afraid of truly knowing someone. So we put this distance between ourselves and them with these artificial identifiers: “Bud.” “Tough Guy.” “Stain.” Are any of these really as endearing as we claim? Or are we just endlessly reaching out with one hand while pushing away with the other?
…You called him Bucko? Naw, then this ain’t the same guy. I don’t know a Bucko.
“Bucko.” What the hell does that even mean?