There’s a hilarious article in the current issue of the New Yorker. Entitled, “Call Me Loyd,” it’s an introspective look at nicknames – why we use them, what they represent, why they’re good.
It struck a chord with me, because I’ve been using nicknames like crazy lately. I don’t know why or what sparked it, but I just can’t seem to use real names at all. Bud, pal, big guy, mouth (for Arnie at the dog park), sweetie, doll, friend…you name it. You nickname it. Heh, heh.
This is something that my dad and his friends do, use nicknames. It’s a sign of familiarity and admiration, yes, but in my dad’s case, it’s also because he forgets names a lot. You can be sure that if my dad greets you as “guy” or “kiddo,” he’s probably wondering who you are, how you know him or why on Earth you’d be talking to him.
Unless you’re a close friend. Then it’s a sign of affection. See how tricky it can be?
I call Brad a number of things: mydoggydaddy, bird, sweetie, honey. But seldom “Brad” unless I’m referring to him while speaking to someone else, writing about him or mad at him.
I’m telling you this now because you should track down the article (written by David Owen, in the February 11th & 18th anniversary issue) and read it (I’d link to it, but it’s not online yet). It’s super funny – it made me laugh out loud – and very relate-able.
I’m also sharing this because it represents another in a string of instances of my life mirroring – almost exactly – what I’m reading or watching or dreaming about.
Here’s one example: Since I was a little girl, I’ve been dreaming of a house – the same house – every month, year after year. It’s made of dark wood and glass, all windows and asymmetry and shaded southern exposures. It is very precise in my dreams – sunken living room with a two-sided fireplace; 1970 meets Dwell. Yesterday, driving from the shoot location back to the hotel, I saw it. It’s just off Lincoln in Scottsdale, a few blocks from the bell tower that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, on the way to Paradise Valley.
My jaw dropped when I saw it; I mean, it was the same house. Ok, well I don’t know if it has a sunken living room and two-sided fireplace, but everything else was exactly as I’d dreamed it, right down to the landscaping (several sage plants, a rosemary bush and xeriscaping).
This morning, driving to the set, I saw a billboard for jobing.com. I noticed it, because I wondered if it shouldn’t actually be “jobbing.com.” I just feel like the “b” would be doubled before the gerund. I don’t know why. Anyway, I was pondering this for a few blocks after the billboard, when suddenly, on the radio, I heard a commercial for an event at "the jobbing.com arena." (Actually, the event was a Bon Jovi concert of all things.) I know, it’s not that big a deal, but it’s a connection, a bridge between thoughts and life. It made me smile.
Last night, on the phone with my mom, Westinghouse came up (we were talking about unions). We hadn’t talked about Westinghouse for years; my grandfather worked there for 40 years, and my father spent time there in the early part of his career. In the 1970s and 80s, Westinghouse was by far Pittsburgh’s largest employer (until 1988, when it closed its East Pittsburgh plant). I remember Westinghouse-branded watches, address books, notepads, pencils, ball caps, windbreakers, golf balls; Westinghouse was everywhere, but I haven’t seen that blue “W” logo for probably 20 years.
Just now, sitting on the set, I glanced up and saw a Westinghouse decal on the back door of the studio. There’s another one on the window. Wow. Weird.
Now, part of me is thinking that this is an issue of awareness. Because I’d been thinking of jobing.com, I noticed the commercial more acutely than I otherwise would have. Likewise, if my mom and I hadn’t talked about Westinghouse last night, my eye line might have scanned the doorway and window without noticing the logo.
But, I don’t know, I choose to think it’s something bigger, something more connected, more universal. Yesterday, I heard that peyote is legal on Indian Reservations in Arizona. Last night, I caught the last 10 minutes of a documentary about Carlos Castaneda. See? I think there’s something happening…