Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

What’s in a name? – Juliet

Where I come from folks didn’t have nicknames. One high school classmate was called “Smokey” (for blatantly obvious reasons), but that was it. In our home even shortening names was considered taboo. My mother, Bernadine, had lived a life of nomenclatorial regret for having been tagged with the shorter and less lovely version, “Bernie”. As a result, Gregg was simply named Gregg (not Gregory and then called Greg), Gordon was never Gordy, and nobody but nobody was allowed to call me “George”. My own father tried, on occasion, but my mother would fix her steely eyes on me and forbid me from answering him.

Clearly parents feel an enormous responsibility associated with choosing names for their beloved children. An Amazon search for books under ‘baby names’ yielded 24,883 hits. That indicates some serious interest in picking the perfect moniker. Why then does everyone in Anguilla have a nickname? The guys who built our house weren’t Tom, Dick and Harry. They were Star, Diamond, Boss and the Baker. I know Sugar and Chickie, Stallone and Benjy, Moses and Duda. Even Michael is sometimes Mike, occasionally Paul, but often times Doc. (I have no idea if people have a name for me other than my given one, but that may be just as well). Way back when, I asked Star about the commonplace, bordering on requisite, nature of nicknames in Anguilla; and he told me, “ ‘Jaja’, yo mama can call you whatever she want, but it be yo friends what pick yo name.”

Heck, even I made one up the other day. I was having lunch with my friend, Dianne, and met the new waiter at the little bistro where we were eating. She introduced him as John. He corrected her. His real name is Paul. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I honestly can’t remember now because she kept getting it confused. So I kept getting it confused. We went around and around and around until we ended up laughing about our aging brains’ inability to remember names. Finally, I sought solace in the fact that at least we knew he was one of the Beatles. So we called him Ringo. And it stuck. He’ll always be Ringo to us now.

So I guess it wasn’t surprising when I went down to the ferry dock yesterday to give something to my friend Dwayne, and I couldn’t find him. I asked one of the regulars if he had seen him. Dwayne? He didn’t know any Dwayne. I said, of course you do. He’s here all the time. Yo tall. Chubby cheeks. Worked on the ferries, then for the port authority, now maybe with the GBExpress boat…. Of course you know Dwayne. Nope. Didn’t ring a bell. So just as I started doubting myself and wondering if his name was really Dwayne since Michael frequently calls him Dwight, the first guy called over another guy. Hey, do you know someone named Dwayne? Luckily, recognition showed on the second guy’s face. He said, oh Duuu-aaaayne? Yeah, he said to the first guy, that’s ‘Beaver’.

Beaver?, I thought. Oh, yeah, Beaver, he says. He was here but I think he gone. So I went over to the woman at the GBExpress boat who I KNOW knows Dwayne because I’ve talked to both of them at the same time. I asked her if Dwayne was around. Pause. Beaver?, I offered. Oh yeah, sorry. He not here. He gone, but he soon come again. So I told her he asked me to drop something off. Could I leave it with her? But before I left I told her how I only know Dwayne as Dwayne – that I didn’t realize that everyone calls him Beaver. And she said, Oh yeah, I remember now. He mother call him Dwayne, but everybody know he as Beaver.

Well, apparently everybody but me and Doc.



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