An Ickname

 My last post was mostly serious so thus by decree this one has to be as proportionally silly as that one was serious. Because that's how I roll, ya'll.

According to my Introduction to English Language class I took in college, words change over time. (Sounds kind of obvious, doesn't it?) Some of the things we talked about are how the article "an" came to be developed, at least partially. I don't remember what the principle is called anymore, but some words used to start with "n" instead of a vowel. These included words such as norange and napron. Think about it. The Spanish word for orange is naranja. Since writing (especially spelling) came long after language did and continued to change, it slowly became "an orange" instead of "a norange." Similarly, "a napron" become "an apron." Another similar change happened. Instead of the losing the "n," some words gained an "n." Thus that is how "an ickname" of the past became "a nickname" in its current usage. I have no idea how true all of this is. I'm just taking it for granted that my professor was right. I'm probably not explaining it super clearly because this class was years and years ago and my memory sucks now. (Mom brain.)

Anyway, my friend Jake (mentioned in this post) wrote a post about nicknames for his son and I decided to write about the various "icknames" I've had during my longish short years.

Nicknames have always been important to me for some reason. It's probably because one of my chief factors (and issues) in life is I have a great inherent desire and need to be special. And nicknames were always for special people and they always got them in special ways. Having a nickname meant being unique and having people love you enough to give you one. Thus, I have always sought for nicknames and cherished many of them throughout my life.

The obvious nickname for Tracie is Trace. I hated being called Trace when I was younger. It's probably because it's an actual word, with the first meaning coming to mind being a verb meaning "to delineate, sketch." I just always think of tracing, which I always considered a cheat even though I did it anyway in the 6th grade when having to draw Greek goddesses for a class and I got all this credit for being such a "good artist." Yeah, I never told. So it didn't count as a nickname. It wasn't until I got older that I started to view it as a sign of affection instead of a lazy substitute for a nickname. So, yes, bring on the "trace," unless I don't like you in which case you're forboden.

Related to Trace is "tray" which I'm saying right now I will NOT abide by. Seriously, call me that and I won't answer. (Unless you're my little sister who does what she wants anyway and I can't get her to stop.) The reason for my hatred of this nickname is when I was a young little Mia Maid there was another girl in my class who liked to pretend to be my friend but would really say mean and hurtful things about me behind my back. She would condescendingly call me "tray" as if we were the greatest buddest buds in the world. So, yeah, don't call me that.

When I was little my dad called me Monkey and Pumpkin. I don't know why. You'll have to ask him. I guess I was his little monkey probably always squirming and jabbering away like a monkey. Pumpkin isn't super special since I think he called all of us girls that one.

In the 6th grade I had a teacher who dubbed me the Doodle Queen because I always doodled on all of my assignments. I still doodle. Come look at my papers around the house. Common doodles include my name in various formations, flowers, cartoon guys, and geometrical shapes.

In junior high I had a friend who would call me Goth just because I hated it and wrote the word Goth on every page of my yearbook. Don't ask me why. I still don't know.

Also in junior high I became known as Tracie the Destroyer. This one is embarrassing for multiple reasons. For those who don't know, I was once shy and socially awkward. I also was known for being smart. (I was voted "smartest" in 7th grader.) Being known for being smart was tremendously embarrassing to me. Who wants to be that person? You might as well pin a sign on my head in fluorescent neon screaming NERD. I'm proud of my intelligence and geekiness and nerdiness (not the same thing) now, but in junior high, it was the kiss of death. Except for one small exception. The one time people want a smart person is when it comes time for a test. In my 8th grade U.S. History class we would play a test review game. The teacher would prepare questions that would be on the exam and write the answers on the dry erase board. The board would be COVERED with words in many directions. He would then divide the class into teams. Then he would have one person from each team sit with their back facing the dry erase board. He would then ask the question and the players would race to "erase" the answer from the board. First person to do it gets a point. The incentive to winning would be the winning team would get extra credit on the exam. Part of me loved and hated this game. I loved it because it was fun. And I was good. Very good. I very rarely lost. So people would fight for me to be on their team. One person in the class dubbed me "Tracie the Destroyer." It was a strange feeling, being mortified and pleased with myself at the same time. Incidentally, in high school, the same kid ended up in a different history class with me and renewed the nickname as that teacher also played review games. After awhile though I was forbidden to play because my team always won and the class would fight about it. Again, embarrassing. And not fair! It's not my fault that I have an awesome memory (prebaby) and am good at trivia and games. Anyway, that's that story.

Another personal favorite is TLee. This one is obvious. First name Tracie, middle name Lee. Put them together and voila, TLee. I still go by this one. My brother Tyler is the first person I remember calling me this. I was probably 17 or 18 and he started calling me TLee when I was working the floor (bindery work) at my dad's printing shop. I remember I started labeling all of my timecards TLee after that. I just loved having this special name. Now if I have to give initials for nonofficial purposes (like video game scores) I always use TLee. (As a side note, I've always loved my middle name, which is the same as my mother's.)

When I was 17 I was in a play of Cinderella that was for kids who were learning how to act. It was an acting and voice and dance workshop that put on a play at the end. (This was the beginning of me breaking my shy shell. I'll tell this story someday.) Anyway, in that workshop was a boy named Trevor. And he was cute. And I liked him. And one of the happiest days of my young life was when I found out he liked me too. Since I was ugly and fat and terribly unlikable, I was shocked that someone could like me. Anyway, as my first "boyfriend"--we never kissed or went on dates or even had much of a relationship beyond "liking" each other-- he gave me the nickname of Hot Queen Babe. Hot because I was, you know, hot. And Queen because I played the part of the Queen in the play and Babe because I was a babe. It's amazing how much a silly nickname can do for the self-esteem. Moving on.

Heidi gave me the nickname of TJ because we used to watch A Night at the Roxbury which had the line "Whatever you say TJ Hooker." This was sometimes shortened to Teej. I loved this nickname too. This nickname died after Heidi dated a guy named TJ.

Then came TMAC. Heidi's family (particularly her brothers) were into sports and basketball so they dubbed me TMAC  (as my maiden name is Tracie McNeil) after the NBA player Tracy McGrady. This name died after I got married though sometimes I go by Tbeck instead but it's not the same. I miss this nickname.

Now I come to my most commonly used nickname. When Austin and I started dating, he started calling me Princess which, after us mutually becoming obsessed with Homestar Runner, became Pwincess. And he is my Pwince. Yes, it's silly. But I love it. And Morgan is our Baby Pwince.

Other random nicknames include Queen of Cheese, which my friends and my mom called me. Because I'm cheesy apparently, in the corny, i.e., overly sentimental way. Why are both those words based on food? Why is food connected with sentiment? Yum. Yum. Anyway, I've also been called Captain Obvious for my penchant for stating the obvious. (If I were in a movie, I would be explication woman.) Austin sometimes calls me Queen of Random. And from time to time I've been addressed as Doubting Tracie, because I can be hesitant, skeptical, and reserved and tend to not leap before checking everything out first.

 And that's my icknames in anutshell.


Should've kept your maiden name so we could keep calling you T-Mac. It's definitely the best choice.

T-Mac, Moby, and Austin... A-Beck? We need to come up with one for him.
Charlo said…
It's true, when someone gives you a nick name, it does make you feel rather singled out and important.
Amanda S. said…
I'm impressed with your memory from Intro to ELang! I don't remember that, and I'm pretty sure I had it more recently than you did, and I certainly don't have the excuse of having a "Mom brain." Dang.
Wendy said…
I love the story about Tracie the Destroyer. That would have left me with mixed feelings too.

Being a redhead named Wendy I was inevitably dubbed Red or Winnie a LOT. I love Winnie, not so much Red. Where's the creativity?

In high school my teachers called me Giggles (you've seen my late night laugh attacks).

For most of my life my brothers called me Sister or Princess to the point that many of their friends didn't know my real name.

But my favorite nickname is from my dad who called me Indy. Probably because we watched a lot of Indiana Jones (and Young Indiana Jones). Who knew one day I would grow up to become obsessed with archaeology?
JanB said…
...your icknames in a COCONUT shell!
Yes, nicknames are fun. But of course, the best one is "Mommy"!
These are seriously cool nicknames all together.

These were mine growing up: retard, dumb, mute, special ed, stupid, idiot, and a few swear words into the mix.

No wonder I didn't like nicknames for myself or anyone else for a really really long time after that!

Then came Ryan: angel, sweeheart. He was tiger sometimes. Nowadays: babe and honey for each other.

My kids though, are another story:

Seth: Sethabeth and Bud

Cade: Cadiepoo and Boog

Leah: Leahvp or LeeLee and Babydoll

Matt: Little Guy and Babybear

Ryan: Boss

Me: Bonnie

(see how we all ended up with B-something?)
Austin said…
I decided to check the etymology on this after we talked about it, here's what wikipedia says about nickname:

The compound word ekename, literally meaning "additional name", was attested as late as 1303. This word was derived from the Old English phrase eaca "an increase", related to eacian "to increase". By the fifteenth century, the misdivision of the syllables of the phrase "an ekename" led to its reanalysis as "a nekename". Though the spelling has changed, the pronunciation and meaning of the word have remained relatively stable ever since.

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