In the Nick of Names

I was named Michele instead of Lisa (a name Mom liked immensely) because Mom judged “Lisa Larson” put folks in a sing-songy frame of mind. “Lisa Larson,” “Lisa Larson,” does have a tweety-bird ring to it, I agree; yet I wouldn’t have minded.

Michele I was, and am; but my nickname is “Chele.” Not “Shell.” Not “Shelly.” Just “Chele.” This also came from Mom, who displayed the kind of care a Mom of one girl does when a orchestrating her girl’s future without boundaries; a future not burdened with, say, a lifetime known as “Bambi” or “Gertrude.”

Mom outlawed without mercy the idea of nicknaming me “Mickey.” I don’t know why but I defer to her judgment. “Chele” has the advantage of meaning not much at all; but those who call me “Chele” do.

I read the Greeks knew the notion of nicknames, something called “Hupokorisma” meaning “calling by an endearing name.” I read this on Wiki so I assume it’s accurate. It’s also very nice. Nicknames are ways we have to like each other.

My favorite is the Walter Matthau character Max in “Grumpier Old Men” who calls the Sophia Loren character Maria “Nag;” And Maria calls Max “Ox.” You can just tell they are crazy in love with each other.

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About Mrs. Fitz

Hello! I'm Michele Fitzpatrick, a Chicago writer. Like our town, a work in progress. As a journalist, teacher and writing coach I think all of us live our stories and sharing them creates moments that remind us we're connected. And that is enough.
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