Monday, January 7, 2008

The Name's A Game

Lesson Number Ten: It's All in the Name

Nicknames are normally created either to shorten a given name or with some sort of intent to identify something unique about the recipient. Bijoux had many nicknames over the years. Some were coherent and could be spelled out easily, had there been a need to write them down (like now); others were just a bunch of nonsense. The common thread that tied most of them together was that, for some reason, they came from me.

During the puppy years, I began that most annoying (especially to Jim, and probably to most other clear-thinking, “normal” adults) habit of speaking to her in baby talk. I didn’t do it all the time; rather, I usually used it when I praised her or petted her. From this baby talk came the first coherent nicknames: “My Girl” and “My Little Baby” were most commonly used at first. Only my closest friends and family could watch (and listen to) the spectacle without questioning my sanity.

Our friends’ son, Nicholas, was just a toddler when he referred to Bijoux as “Boo-doo”, and later, Dylan called her “Bee-doo”. Jim’s Mom used to call her “Kirby”, after the brand of vacuum cleaners, because of her talent and desire for cleaning up the crumbs. It wasn’t until Bijoux’s death that we realized how “crumby” our floor could get!

As time went on, I would snuggle up to Bijoux and babble incessantly about my “Pooky”, a name that stemmed from the teddy bear belonging to the cartoon strip cat “Garfield”.

Eventually “Pooky” evolved into “Boo-shee Boo-shee”. Occasionally I threw in the more normally constructed and natural-sounding shortened version of her name, “Bij”, and then that was shortened even more to “B”. Sometimes “B” turned into “Busy Bee”, coming from the favorite toy of the Weimeraner in the movie “Best in Show”.

The earliest occurrence of the nickname that stuck with her the longest and was used by the most people turned up in a conversation (one-sided, of course) that I was having with Bijoux one day. I was calling her my “Boo-shee Boo-shee”, and then turned that into “Shoo-shee”. I thought of the spelling of her name in relation to “Siouxsie and the Banshees”, a popular 1980’s band. I called Bijoux “Siouxsie” (pronounced Susie) and for some reason, I couldn’t let it go. Julie used to warn me, “She’s going to answer to that one day if you keep using it.”

Lo and behold, one day she did! “Siouxsie” became “Susie”, and after a while I used it interchangeably with her given name.