Sunday, June 5, 2011

Primrose Jim, Enter Stage Right

Sissy, Pinky, Bunky, Buzz, Tish, Mimi, Hank, H.B., Boot, Whitey-- all nicknames.  All ridiculous names.  All names that immediately identify the person, no questions asked.  No "which Bob?"  "You mean Chris Smith?"  "Anne who?"  Just say the ridiculous nickname and everyone knows.

My family is not one for nicknames.  Except for my Aunt Mildred and her daughter Mona**, no one in my family really has a nickname, other than the usual Bob or Sue or "normal" nicknames that most people use. We don't stand on formality, so although there are Roberts and Daniels and Kathleens, most of them go by those typical nicknames.
I think because of this, I've always been fascinated by nicknames.  I've always wanted a nickname.  I've always wanted my family to have nicknames that everyone knew, names they had been called for so long that no one even remembers their real names.  Nicknames that are natural.

Maybe nicknames come from playing sports as a kid.  It seems the majority of people I know with silly nicknames were once good athletes.  Maybe it's easier to call out "Get it JJ" from the sidelines than "Get it John Jr."  We aren't an athletic family, so maybe that's why we lack nicknames.

It's sort of inappropriate to yell "great pirouette Bibby" during a dance recital.

We know a family who is fascinated with names and regularly call each other by completely incorrect names.  Not nicknames, just names.  We've been at parties where they actually went around with post its and gave people new names and laughed themselves silly over it.  One of them has a baby named Peter.  Or Hank.  He's 2 and I'm still not really sure if his name is Peter or Hank, so I call him Peterhank.

I'm equally fascinated with names of any kind.  I have a visual memory, so I need to know how you spell your name so that when someone is talking about you, I know which Brian/Bryan, Kaleigh/Kaylee they are talking about.  I also love to know where names came from, who they are named after and why the names are spelled so strangely.

Good thing I'm a teacher because there is no end to the plethora of spellings of names I've never imagined.

Well, my aunt s-ster has finally done it.  She found a name for my father that will forever stick in my mind and he will henceforth be referred to by this name on my blog.

Primrose Jim.

It came to her in a dream.  He was giving her directions in the dream and being very helpful and his name was Primrose Jim.

My father is neither prim, nor a Jim/James/Jimmy, nor a nickname kind of guy.

I've laughed for 2 days over this name.  My father is the last person on earth that would have a nickname suit him.

Until now.

My favorite part of her dream is that he was giving her directions to a woman's house where there were hundreds of old sea captains carved out of wood.  In the dream, it was a local landmark.

And the wood carvings wore yellow slickers, as only sea captains could.

Only a man named Primrose Jim could give directions to a place like that.  He'd have to be an old sea captain himself.  My father is not a sea captain, but I am sure if it were 200 years ago, he would be. And that would be his name.

In her dream, he was very helpful to everyone in our campground.  Everyone loved Primrose Jim.

Using my very active imagination, I can picture my father in his summer uniform of  shorts and a car wash t-shirt(because as most pictures from my childhood will show, no t-shirt but a car wash t-shirt is ever good enough for him--did I ever tell you we own a car wash?), giving directions.  This makes the name Primrose Jim even more hilarious to me.

And Primrose Jim is the only nickname I can imagine that would suit my father.

We could call him PJ for short and that would make me laugh just as much.

**When I was little,  I'm told that I couldn't say Aunt Mildred, so I called her Ama.  Things took place on Ama's porch in the summer.  Ama and Butch would come down in June and leave when we went back to school.  I don't really remember calling her that.  In my memory, I always called her Aunt Mildred.  Well up until she died, when my father referred to her, he would say Ama (not to her face, of course). 

The weird thing is that her daughter's name was also Mildred, but her youngest couldn't say Mildred, so he called her Mona.  For most of my life I thought her name was really Mona.  Turns out, it was Mildred too.   Is Mildred really so hard for little kids to say?

Oh wait, as I reread this, I realize that Butch wasn't really Butch's name.  His real name was John.  Another thing I didn't know until I was a lot older.  So maybe there are more nicknames in my family than I realize.  Hmm.


  1. This made me laugh because anyone not in our family would probably be confused about what a "car wash t-shirt" is.

  2. Primrose Jim? Awesome!

    My nickname growing up was Schtoonk. Which I found out when I was 16 means "little shit" in Yiddish. My dad also called me Chingachcook from Last of the Mohicans.

  3. Very funny! I don't know if I dare call him that to his face. I might after a glass or two of wine. We'll see! But I will be thinking it, too. Does he read your blog? Maybe he won't know who s-ster is. I have a million nicknames for the Maggnificat. And I have about 4 names people call me but nothing very unique. So, I hear you. I am going to think one up for you and see if it sticks. I don't think you are allowed to make up your own according to nickname rules. I may have to try out a few before we land on the appropriate one. Sparkle can be shortened to Sparky...just for a start. Hmmmm...


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