yesterday i ran with a pregnant moose, litter box, burnt ta ta's and, lactathalon to name a few. this was one of the many san diego hash house harrier runs. for those not initiated into the ways of the hash, they are a global 'drinking club with a running problem'. there is a 3-5 mile trail marked with piles of flour (some are false trails) which can have you running through rocky, sandy desert, dodging turds in a camel farm, wading across the sea, alarming the living daylights out of pakistani labourers in the ruling family's date palm plantation, through neighborhoods frozen in a 70's time warp, or through the housing projects inhabited by mexicans. every hash is followed by beer drinking to the tune of bawdy rugby songs while pulling your shorts down to sit on a block of ice. everyone has a hash name. i was beer baptized as "looking for virgin ice".
we all have our real names, nicknames and pet names (i'm not talking about sweetums, chicken nugget or other sacharine sickness); we give them to our closest friends, acquaintances and sometimes people we don't know personally but see often enough to christen them and accurate enough so that other people know exacty which neighborhood characters we are talking about.
some people get names based on what they do: "mattress and more jim", "bikeshop john", fireman john", "landlord jim", "the mormon dentist", "starbucks dave" who then became "wedding dave". some get them based on how they look: "boobman", "blue hair gene", and "creepy john". some get their names based on who they are; "marykinsey-she's-so-nice" (whose trail name is also "grease moneky"), "gap girl", "born again roomate", "jewish mother roomate", "pothead roomate", and "craphead". some on where they live "cincinatti steve". some because it's just a fun name to say; "maggie chickey". some because of who they were first introduced by; "alex's jonathon". some because they had a medical emergency that resulted in a derby party ending with an ambulance ride to UofL's ER; "spleen jonathon". and some because of the bike they ride; "k2 rob" and "curtlo".
finally there are the names which make no sense until you hear the story; "big country". my brother has named me after an air freshening company in bahrain; "teeb" just because its fun to say. he also calls me "chud"- as in stephen king's "cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller", these are now how he addresses me in birthday cards, emails etc. for some inexplicable reason he insists on calling my mother "doris"- because it's an old lady sounding name, my father calls her "mure-eeeeee" (it rhymes with her name ruri, but drives her nuts). however, my father is called "zippy" (his name starts with a z). "grease monkey"/"marykinsey-she's-so-nice" calls me "spider girl" because i would ride ahead of her on the trail and clear the path of spider webs by catching them with my face.
we can't give ourselves our own names at birth, and we cant invent our own nicknames either. they are always a gift given to us by others who have been watching us closely and paying attention, typically to what we pretend not to notice. anything we try and give ourselves is more about our own wishes, hopes and narcissism; "chud" is more me than "travel girl" anyway.