Crispy, meet Bull, Moose and Hoss. Fellows, meet Crispy.
His is the latest in a lifetime of nicknames, but the only one that is in no way connected to my size and the one that ultimately may have the most meaning.
Merriam-Webster defines a nickname as “a name (such as ‘Moose’ or ‘Lady Bird’) that is different from your real name, but is what your family, friends, etc., call you when they are talking to you or about you.”
Awhile back, I wrote about how I came to be known in college as Hoss. In the past year, I’ve told the story of how I came to be known as Moose in my hometown. I don’t remember much about my days as Bull back in grade school. I was the biggest kid in my class, someone started calling me Bulldozer, which was shortened to Bull. End of story.
The tale of Crispy is a better story. At least it’s a more-recent one, which means I can still remember it.
For the past 18 months or so, I have been in a relationship with Janet. She is great — funny, tall, smart, beautiful and the mother of Macy, 17, and Jacob, 12. The three of them have added elements to my life that make me very happy.
It must have been maybe a year ago, Janet and Jacob were playfully wrestling in the living room and talking trash while I watched (wasted time Facebooking on my phone.)
“Let’s go, Cracker,” Jacob said to his mom. (The old newspaper editor, whose voice I hear only in my head, says I need to explain — to those who perhaps don’t know — what cracker means in this usage. Since this the Internet, I’ll just link to it.)
As the trash talking continued, the combatants started referring to each other as Mama Cracker and, if I remember correctly, Baby Cracker. Watching on the sidelines, I was initially called Chris Cracker, which then morphed into Crispy Cracker. The alliteration combined with the fact that real crackers — the kind that are meant to be eaten — actually are crisp made the nickname click.
But it was almost immediately shortened to just Crispy, which seems to have stuck. And I’m OK with Macy and Jacob calling me Crispy because I see it as more than just a nickname. It was an early symbol of acceptance, a sign that I had earned a toehold in our foursome. That’s not something I take for granted.
I wanted kids for a long time, but never got to have any. So, for me, it has been the opportunity of a lifetime to develop a relationship with them. They are bright, funny, active, involved and interesting.
When I was Jacob’s age, I was quite proud of the fact that my peers started calling me Moose, the name many of them still call me on the rare occasions when we get together. In college, I was OK with my friends calling me Hoss.
At 48, I’d guess Crispy likely will be my last nickname. Don’t tell anyone, but I kind of like it.