Despite the myth of childhood being a time of utter goodness, kids can be cruel. One of the ways this cruelty expressed itself in my childhood neighborhood is in assigning cruel nicknames. I got called “Cow” during much of my elementary school years, putatively because it sounded similar to my real first name but more likely because I was heavy and unathletic. As a result, my real name always sounds ugly to me, and as soon as I turned 18 I moved to a nickname I myself chose.
This experience made me sensitive to the effects of names, both in real life and in my fiction. I can never get a feeling for a character until I settle on a name–the real name at the very least, and often any nickname used by the characters friends & enemies. In my novel-in-progess, for instance, one of the protagonists, Hannah, is called “lil sis” by her best friend and “baby girl” by the best friend’s older sister; but the neighborhood boys call her “Handy May” or “Sucky Buckey.” Even though I intend it to be an act of cruelty, my own experiences make it hard for me to call her that myself (fortunately, the wonders of search & replace mean I don’t have to type it all the time.)
What about the rest of you dopers? What nicknames were you saddled with, good & bad, as a child/teen? Do you still react to them now?