Never Name Your Kid Katherine

When I was born, my dad nicknamed me Blondie. After the dog. It was not an auspicious beginning but I guess I should be grateful that Dad limited the Blondie use. While filling out the birth certificate for both Little Brother and Little Sister, he enacted the ultimate veto by ignoring the names my parents had agreed upon and rechristening both my siblings. Knowing Dad’s track record, and considering his much-loved dog was given away just a few days before I was born, it would not have been a stretch for Dad to decide Katherine was out and Blondie was in. I’m sure he’d have justified it as a memorial to that fabled Lab while dooming me to a life of explaining that, yes, I was legally named after a dog.

Aside from Blondie, my life has been awash in pet names. Actually, each phase of my life can be charted by what people were calling me at the time. Right now I’m operating under KJ, Rine (which is the bastardization of Katherine; born because eCrush is too lazy to say my full name) and Chuckles (don’t ask; I don’t get it either). My formative years were awash in Katherine derivatives: Kat, Chatty Cathy, Katy-did, Katrina Ballerina. And there was also Thunder Thighs. Yup. Little Brother bestowed that gem. He’d break it out when he was on the receiving end of an Extreme Brother Beat Down and he had no other recourse. It was sort of his verbal trump card. Its use guaranteed I’d throttle him, but he’d sacrifice because he knew how much Thunder Things pissed me off. Eventually he stopped using the nickname, but it left its mark. Strangely enough, being called Thunder Thighs has instilled a lifelong hatred of chicken wings. To this day, on 25 cent wing night, the unique logic of my ten-year-old self dominates and I can’t participate. Basically I associate chicken wings with chicken thighs and in some twisty mental way, my own thighs. So, eating chicken wings? It’s like doing a Donner Party on yourself.

Then there was the whole Katie- Kate-Katherine evolution. Being called Katie was acceptable until about eighth grade. At that point, it no longer aligned with my newfound Mature Sensibilities so I took advantage of moving to a new school and renamed. Goodbye, Katie. Hello, Kate. After years of dedicated correction, I finally got my parents to drop the “i.” Yet my extended family remains rooted in Katie. It’s been over a decade since I’ve undergone the Kate upgrade, but if I phone any of my assorted aunts and self-identify as such, there’s a pause followed by, “Who?” At that point I’ve got a choice: hang up or sigh, give in to 29 years of history and grudgingly call myself by the name they recognize.

In college, when I tried to make the move from Kate to Katherine, I stupidly mentioned it to my mom. Her response was a two page email wondering if my constant name switches were an early warning sign of schizophrenia and offering medical attention while I was still on her insurance. I tried to explain that it wasn’t so much multiple personalities as it was reverting to the name she picked out. Also, there a desire to be a bit more professional than the name Katy-Did allowed. Still, I never made it to Katherine-status in college. Too many high schoolers followed me from my piece of suburbia. You can only grunt, “My name is Katherine,” so many times before you accept four more years of name stagnation. It took ‘til law school to make transition. Of course, for the first three weeks I had to muzzle Aaron Reed, who followed me from high school to college and then onto get out JDs. Still, it was worth it.

But rewind all the way back in eighth grade, when I was attempting that Katie/Kate swap. That’s about the same time I got another stellar nickname. A week into classes, there was an all grade assembly which included a segment I fondly refer to New Kid Embarrassment Times A Million. Each of the three new kids was asked to stand up. One by one, the guidance counselor announced our names, where we’d previously attended school and a fun fact about us. (This is Chucky! He comes to us from Cleveland and likes to play the tuba! Poor Chucky. All hope of moving up the social ladder pitifully crushed thanks to the public identification of his Bandie status.) I was the last one she introduced. Blessedly, she got the Kate part right and my fun fact was innocuous. But then she revealed where I’d last lived. From that day, every boy from my particular piece of Ohio called me Abu Dhabi. Even at our ten year reunion.

So, of course, when Aaron “I stalked Katherine through the great educational institutions of the world” Reed would see me in the college dining hall, he’d shout, “Yo! Abuuuuuuuu!” I’d pretend to ignore the Crazy Man while silently renewing my vow of revenge on that guidance counselor. The one time a college friend was around for Aaron’s Abu Display, I refused to tell her the story. After all, this was the same friend who had ushered in a new age of nicknames. The last thing she needed was more ammunition; she’d done enough name damage during sophomore year when she drunkenly realized masturbate ends in an “ate” sound. She was so drunk-excited; you’d have thought she’d invented the orgasm. That night of alcoholic excess kicked off the MasturKate era. And also ForniKate, EradiKate, ExhilarKate, ExonerKate, TitillKate, and 226 other ends-in-ate names. I know the exact count because we kept a running list in rainbow colored marker on our dry erase board for the semester. And junior year, the list evolved into a drinking game. I’m told that game was passed on, sort of like a nickname virus, through my specialized program, where it lives on and routinely taxes the minds of underage binge drinkers, as they struggle to think of new “ate” words.

Admittedly, it’s great that my nickname suffering has led to increased alcoholic consumption. My inner sorority girl is skipping around in delight. But really, I’m not sure that particular glory makes up for moments like last night’s drunk dial. A college friend left a message. It was four minutes of her chanting, “MasturKate likes to ForniKate! I rhyme! MasturKate likes to ForniKate! I rhyme!”  Over. And. Over. Again.  Moments like that? They make me wish Dad had named me after the dog.

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9 Responses to “Never Name Your Kid Katherine”

  1. lacochran Says:

    Well, Blondie would still have been better than Rex or Spot. 🙂

    Could you imagine? A lifetime of, “My name is Spot.” Just enroll the kid in therapy and kindergarten as one.

  2. Dom Says:

    But chicken wings are SO GOOD..!

    Ewwww. No!

  3. angela Says:

    Dude, that is awesome. In an oh so horrible way.

    Don’t even get me started on my last name…

  4. J.M. Tewkesbury Says:

    Chicken wings rock! But, I get why they would hold no appeal for you.

    And be glad your dad didn’t name you Blondie. That was the name of Hitler’s German shepherd. That evil bastard used his dog to test the cyanide vials he and his mistress, Fr. Braun-Hitler, had been given to facilitate their sorry-assed suicides. (P.S. I can’t believe I even know that.)

    I think you should go back to Kate. Think Kate Hepburn. Classy, strong, no-nonsense woman. A lot like you!

    You are so my phone-a-friend if I am ever on Millionaire! And thanks for the compliment.

  5. SEO Abu Dhabi Says:

    lol I bet your your dad’s thinking of a puddle name or something. but it’s funny one of my friends calls his dog blondie..:) no offense:)

    OK, I am beginning to think there are a lot of dogs named Blondie…Is it the cat version of Dusty?

  6. Kevin Says:

    I remember getting tagged with a couple of nicknames while I was in the Marines. One, thankfully, was ditched when I transferred from the left to right coasts. The other, well, it was just as bad and I hated it. The funny thing is I eventually embraced it and made it my own. It eventually became my rugby nickname (I even have it etched into a beer mug). Alas, there’s only two or three people around who still remember…

    Of course, you know, with this posting all you’ve done is revive all of the nicknames you never liked…

    AbuKate…

    So Kevin, now I’m curious. Because the Marines? Are good with the nicknames…

  7. suz Says:

    Whatever! You totally love it.

    xoxo, MasturKate

  8. Doug Says:

    Oh stop being so DeliKate. heh heh.

    I never really had any nicknames growing up. I just got my lunch money taken instead. Although “Doogie” stuck for a little while when Doogie Howser was popular on TV. Everyone kept asking me if I was screwing Wanda.

    I had the biggest crush on Doogie Howser. Sigh. And you probably would be great at the drinking game…

  9. LiLu Says:

    Nothing, not NOTHING, will ever beat KATERTOT.

    Yeah, I do actually love that one. A lot.

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