Terms of Endearment



What’s In A Name?


Nicknames seem to be a common practice in my world of intimate relationships. When I think about the use of different nicknames I am called by friends and family and the nicknames I have given to many of them, it makes me chuckle.

Ever since I was young, I had been given various nicknames and usually within a short time-frame of becoming close with someone I have an uncanny ability to christen them with my own nickname made up for them instinctively.

I write with the pen-name D.G. Kaye, but I am also known to others in my circle of life by a myriad of other names. It seems as though people have their own endearing terms for me just as I do for them. How these names sometimes come about can be so random and more often than not they are derived from a particular occurrence that is shared privately between two individuals. Some names may not even be particularly flattering because of the circumstance they denote or perhaps they were contrived during childhood teasings. Even though the connotation behind the nickname may no longer apply, sometimes a name just sticks and we learn to respond to it when being addressed.

I chose D.G. Kaye as my pen-name keeping my first and matrimonial initial of my name and expanded the ‘K’ into Kaye which was the initial from my maiden name. I never liked my maiden name because everyone seemed to pronounce it incorrectly and it used to bother me.

But my childhood nicknames given to me were plentiful. My dad used to have cute little pet names for me as a child. And I always remember my full name, Deborah, only being used by my mother when I was getting reprimanded for something she was accusing me of doing. Hence, when someone calls me Deborah now, I still cringe internally. These days my full name is only used formally, usually by a doctor or someone who doesn’t know me well.

When I was a teen, my siblings  bestowed on me their ever- affectionate nickname Enormous, when I went through my chubby stage. They shortened it to Enor for convenience. Charming! A few years later my younger sister became chubby herself and so I passed the torch on to her and began calling her Enor #2. My brothers would snicker and laugh every time they said the name and as much as it hurt, through the years it became comical and it stuck. My sister nor I are no longer chubby but through the decades our names stuck and we shortened our name right down to ‘E’. To this day that is what we call one another.

I remember a time when she and I were younger and single and went on vacation together and we were chatting amongst people we met and we’d call each other E and we were questioned how we could be sisters if we had the same name. (I’m laughing out loud just writing this.)

One of my best friends Bri grilled me for years what E or Enor stood for and when I finally told her she howled in laughter. She thought it was so cute and began calling me Nor, taking off the ‘E’, and she still does to this day. My other best friend Zan gave me a strange name Booben about three decades ago when an old flame of hers interrupted a story I was telling her about my Jewish grandmother, which the Yiddish name for grandmother is boobie. He laughed so hard and misinterpreted the pronounciation and said booben instead of boobie. That nonsense went on for weeks, bringing us laughter with every time it came up, to the point that they both starting calling me Booben.

My own husband doesn’t address me by my given name either. When we were dating he dubbed me as a feisty bear cub and from that time on he calls me Cub or Cubby. I am also known as Cubster to some. I can probably count on one hand how many times I have ever addressed my husband by his own name. Since I have an affinity for nicknaming those near and dear to me I have about six different names for him. Some are so ridiculous I can’t even name them here. But the one I use most often is Puppy. Sheesh, I’ve been calling him that for so long that sometimes he will even pretend he is a puppy when he will jokingly scratch on the table as a sign that it’s feeding time. It also serves for lots of laughter and lots of explaining when around people who don’t yet know us well. Some people get a charge out of it, especially when we casually address one another with these names in the company of new people we just met who get confused who we are talking to.

Don’t even get me started with the slew of names I have for my many other friends. Do any of you use nicknames for loved ones?