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What's in a (Nick) Name? I Shudder to Think.

There was a time when I thought nicknames were limited to “Honey,” “Darlin’” (no g, ever), and “Sugar.” Those were the ones I heard my grandparents use the most, and it was sort of lovely to be lumped in with all the other Darlin’s in the family — that no matter who you were, you were Darlin’ just like sister Liz is Darlin’ and mom is Darlin’ and Aunt Julie is Darlin’. Those standard nicknames hold a family together like a tribal tattoo.

My tribe, however, is from a planet 5,000 lightyears away from the last known normal person living in the D/FW area. I’ve kept a secret, alarming inner catalog of all of Madeline’s nicknames. These are not names that I have used once and only. No. These are hardworking labels that bounce around our house as frequently as, well, Drew.

Please, I beg you — be kind in your thoughts.

Thing Two





Wheesh Bag











Mae-bee (sounds like “maybe,” which is somehow weirder than Goosesteak)





I’m sorry you had to see that. But this helps me, really it does. I feel purged.

That list amounts to a good 20+ calls Mae-Beef has to answer to, so it is no wonder she is a confused toddler. (And no, I have no idea what a Boof is, or if there is enough of any goose breed that would produce a whole steak.) I asked Maddie what her name was the other day and she actually said, “Beef.” Ugh. I swore to end the madness right then and there — but Gordon and me, we just can’t help ourselves. We will have only ourselves to blame when those rancher commercials make her want to run away with the circus. Could you imagine being what’s for dinner?

My brother Jon bestowed added gravitas upon her nickname by calling her The Beef. When Gordon, my siblings and I were touring Italy with my parents this summer — the kids safely tucked away in one of my in-laws’ closets — we would pass an ancient fountain and say how The Beef would really love those pigeons, or how The Beef would love this blackberry gelato.

We came back and taught Madeline to say, “The Beef” which is hilarious. Check it out:

Drew’s nicknames were never so prolific, and his have dwindled down to Drewby, Drulu, Pumpkin Head, and ANDREW JAMES RHODES. That last one is because I’ve been mad at him a lot lately.

I suppose my biggest inner conflict, besides the sheer size of Mae-Wheesh’s moniker smorgasbord, is how a good many of her nicknames relate to her chubbiness. My mother-in-law thinks she will develop some sort of complex, but my friend Suzanne (who was called “Little Pig” in her tender years) thinks she will probably be fine. And since the nicknames have developed, even since that video was taken, Madeline has thinned out as her stubby arms have lengthened into the miniature proportions of a real, live child. This is all very heartbreaking of course, but it certainly doesn’t mean the nickname will move on to greener pasture. (You know, since it’s cow-related and all.) I’m afraid I’ll only find more and more ways to intensify the spirit of it because whenever I see that beautiful little creature I just want to devour her like the beef braised in red wine I made for our supper club last month. Now THAT was a real Beefsteak…

I sense none of this helps my standing in your eyes. I have now revealed my strange compulsions to you; I have divulged the odd twitches of a woman who has first been smitten and then sleep-deprived. So just try to pretend this post doesn’t exist, will you? Try to think of me as someone who says Sweetheart and wears pearls and cardigans and who placidly mops her linoleum. I would appreciate it a lot, Darlin.’ Really I would.

So would The Boof-Cake. (Oh god. A new one.)


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