Saturday, June 13, 2009

What's in a Nickname?

My family name is pronounced like two words: owe linger, with the accent on the "owe." People have a tendency to make it AW, like what you say at a cute kitty. They also, for reasons I will never understand, make the "g" soft, turning it into a "j," and making my name Awlinjer. I don't understand why. I really don't understand why they do it after I have pronounced it for them. So my name came with awkward pronunciation and a built-in dipwad-o-meter. Cool.

It also-- like other names, including Sullivan, Smith, Jones, and many more-- came with a built-in nickname. Just as Bob Sullivan is destined to be Sully, and Mike Smith is destined to be Smitty, I was destined to be yet another Olie. I share the nickname with my brothers, who are also Olies. Or Oli, in the Latin.

When I was a college student, and later as a teacher, I got a reputation for being a bit of a trivia source. I was, like, your go-to-gal if you needed to phone a friend. If you were stuck in the Cash Cab, I was your shout out. Hence came the nickname Olie Wan Kanobe, after the Jedi of a similar tome. "Help us, Olie Wan Kanobe, you're our only hope." And in true jedi fashion I often did. Cuz I'm all made of the wisdom and stuff.

There were variations. My students called me Ms. Olinger, which became Ms. Olie, and later Mazola, Corn Goodness.

Shut up. They were kids and I let them so they'd like me.

Later, when I met Ahmed, a new nickname just for him was inevitable. He tried gaemil for a while, which means "jewel." It was funky to say and spell, and before long went away. But around the time we started to get serious he would, occasionally, call me "Badjia," which is both a place somewhere in Africa and a rare, infrequently used Kurdish word that means "exquisite," or more accurately "unattainable." Ahmed says it kind of slushy and soft... bahh zha, the "dj" sort of like Doctor Zhivago. It was explained to me that the word usually applied to a gem, or an artifact that was unique or incredibly rare, therefore precious. And yes... I am blushing as I type that.

Shut up, it wasn't my idea.

At this point in our relationship he only calls me Chrissy or Christine when he's speaking to somebody else. Usually it's Badjia, my Badjia, or DammitChristine, which I believe is actually my given name. Not sure. The birth certificate is blurry.

His family calls me Badjia, or Ahmed's Badjia, or Our Badjia... or, may heaven help me, The Badjia. I blame his father for that one. Yes, I am talking to YOU, Khalid. Deal with it.

On Romance Divas and a few other forums and chats I am known as Shanda Lear. I am always delighted to discover there are herds of people online who actually think that's my name. Sometimes when I meet them in person I get to see them say it out loud for the first time, make the little "O" of discovery, and laugh out loud as they figure it out.

It's pronounced Shanda rhymes with panda and Lear rhymes with spear.

*waiting quietly for a moment*

See, you got it!!!


  1. Well, you're always My, or our or The Crissy to me.


  2. You are freaking hilarious. This post totally made my afternoon.

    Ahmed sounds like such a sweetie.

    My hubby just calls me Trouble (I'm sure I don't know why)

  3. You know he really is the best thing that ever happened to me.

    And yes, I am still allowed to complain about him. It's my job.

  4. I am calling you awlinjer from now on.

  5. If you get tired of being Shanda Lear, you can always become Canda Labra...

  6. HEHEHEHEHE great post. I love your nicknames!!