My cell phone rang last night and as I glanced down to see who it was I could see the word “Bones” blaring off the screen. A feeling of comfort came upon me. Usually, phone calls on my cell in the evening are work related. Someone locking themselves out of the computer and needing assistance or maybe a server was down. Always an inconvenience. So it was a great relief to see “Bones” on there.

Bones, as it turns out, is actually the nickname for my brother Louie. He’s been going by the name of “Bones” for at least 35 years. I don’t think there’s a single person who knows him that hasn’t called him that name at one point or another. Before “Bones” he was called “Gooey” which is how we as young children would say “Louie”. But as we all got older Gooey fell by the way side in favor of something that would better describe his skeletal frame. And he’s been Bones ever since.

What’s in a name?

The most logical nickname in my family has to be “Woody” and a lot of us have had that name bestowed. But we Wood’s were never ones to just go with the status quo. No, we needed to be different. I myself had several nicknames growing up. The earliest one I can recall is “Bipper”. To this day, I am not sure why my father decided to dub me with this surname.  But then again, why would my father’s brother nickname his own son “Chump”?

Bipper soon turned into “White Cap”. A nickname my brother loved to use that described the color of my hair which was over the top blonde. I always remember not liking this name for some reason. Although with the mass exodus of my “White Cap” today….I’d much prefer it to, oh say being called “Skullcap”.

White Cap soon fell by the way side too in favor of something more diabolical. My brother knew that of all the things I loathed as a youth, my middle name topped the list. Edward. I hated it. I always wanted it to be “Michael” or “Steven”. Anything but Edward. It sounded funny and indeed my brother knew he had found my achillies heel.

So Edward it was. And as much as I tried to get him to stop calling me that it only made it worse. Begging, telling my parents and even some threats of violence were all to no avail. I was Edward. Soon every child in my family was calling me that and for quite a while I was a mess about it. He’d even introduce me as Edward to his new friends. Eventually, I became adjusted to it and was fortunate enough to have the name “hipped” up over the years to be “Eddie” instead.

What other nicknames have been used for members of my family? Let’s see, there’s been Lard, Nark, Hermie, Eye, Bop, Rosie and Pumpkin. You can draw your own conclusions as to where those names came from. And then there’s the story about “Bowlman”.

My brother went through a period in high school where he liked to dabble in weed. I was never into that stuff but one day stumbled upon the mother load of ALL nicknames for him. I decided the best way to not only bring attention to what he was doing but also to degrade him would be to call him “Bowlman” or “Bowl”.  If you’re a bit confused let me explain. A “bowl”, in addition to being a container for cereal, is also a term used to describe a marijuana pipe.

In the beginning, my bro did not like it at all that he was being called the Bowlman. Mostly because it would make my grandmother (God bless her) question him as to why I was calling him that. Then he would have to struggle to try to explain it to her without giving away his dirty little secret.

Of course, that’s when he would tell her that “Bowl” was really MY nickname. I remember getting into a LOT of arguments with him about it… “Oh NO..I am NOT Bowlman…YOU ARE!” I’d scream. There was absolutely no way he was turning the ULTIMATE nickname back on me without a fight. Brotherly love be damned.

As the years went on his bowl use stopped but the nickname didn’t. The name took on a life of it’s on.  In fact, we still call each other “Bowl” even in mixed company. It’s become part of our common vernacular. Now a days, “Bowlman” or “Bowl” has become a joke between us. A memory of growing up.

So the next time you see me I won’t shed a tear if you call me Eddie. And calling me “Bowlman” will give me a chuckle.  But in the battle of childhood nicknames I’m still vindicated and I’ll tell you why.

My brother’s grandson calls me “Uncle Jimmy”…. but my daughter still calls him “Uncle Gooey”.

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