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"Begging for Nicknames" mind matters
November 15, 2002

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I want a nickname.

In high school, one my teachers decided that my nickname should be Snake. He wrongly believed that Seth was the name of the snake that tempted Eve with an apple. For the next several weeks, he occasionally remembered to call me Snake, but he was the only one who used it.

In college, my friend John started calling me Home Slice, but I never knew why. He shortened the whole thing to Slice, and for at least a year he never used my real name at all. Thankfully, Slice never caught on.

As a young child, my dad used to call me Seth Atom Bomb, because my middle name is Adam. It was kind of funny, but he was the only one who ever said it. Meanwhile, my brother liked calling me Tushyface, but he was five.

Every nickname I've had is unremarkable, and never has a name been adopted by a second person. I've been called Sethers, Cowboy, Sam, Flem, and Sweetie, each by a single person, never more.


Don't get me wrong, I love my name. It's uncommon, which I like, and it's distinct enough for people to remember it. On purpose, my parents didn't give me a name with lots of variations. But every now and then, I wonder what another name would feel like. I had even hoped Snake would catch on.

Instead, the opposite happened. My classmates discovered in a world religion class that there's an Eqyptian donkey-aardvark god named Seth. This made my name that much more popular! (Yes, it's true. Read more.)

You know, occasionally I want to change my image. I'll put on a hat or grow a beard. I'll try on clothes I'd never otherwise wear. I take time in my life to explore other sides of this “Seth” character, to be a little extra goofy or selfish or sloppy. All I need now is a name to go with these characters. The only people I know who actually get two characters are transvestites: two names, one for each sex. Different name, different character, different self.

We define ourselves by our names so deeply that it might be nice to try a different one on for size. James has multiple personalities: James, Jim, and Jimmy. So does Rebecca: Rebecca, Becca, Becky, and Beck. My name is a one-size-fits-all thing, with no wiggle room for experimentation. I didn't get much opportunity to be Snake or Slice, so I know only what I've got.

Here's my cry to the universe: give me a name! Be sweet or rude, obvious or subtle, creative or painful. I know who I am, but I want a second opinion. How about Doc, Twain, Brain, or Buff? Shakes? Skittles? Maybe Shorty or Van Winkle. Only I'm not allowed to choose for myself. You need to choose for me. Do you have what it takes to make one stick? I challenge you to give me a chance to try on a brand new face.

Other than Tushyface, that is.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin

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