Nicknames by the number

This morning’s indoor cycling class at the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA wasn’t all bad — this song was on the instructor’s playlist.

Nicknames here. Get your nicknames here.

This is not a new topic in these parts, but in the past 50 years, many nicknames seemed to have stuck to me. Don’t look now, but there could be a new one on the horizon.

Awhile back, I started attending indoor cycling classes at the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA. I’ve become a semi-regular at the classes taught by Kathleen Herber at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

That’s where I eventually found myself being called out by the instructor about 10 minutes into this morning’s 45-minute class. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many minutes had lapsed before I realized she didn’t think I was pushing myself hard enough. At some point, I looked up to realize that Herber and the only two other people in the room were watching and laughing at me for: A) — Dogging it; and B) Being blissfully unaware of anything else going on around me.

To be blunt: Daydreaming.

In my defense, bicycling — even the indoor variety — has always provided me with opportunities to think. Away from all of life’s other distractions, I’ve been known to write entire newspaper columns, blog posts, job-application cover letters and even grocery lists in my head as I pedaled. And when I finished riding, I would sit down and write whatever was inside my head, waiting to be put down on paper.

But I wasn’t about to say  all of that. They were already laughing hard enough.

“I have a master’s degree in selective hearing,” I said.

To which Herber retorted: “It’s more like a Ph.D.”

And for most of the rest of the class, she referred to me as “Doc.”

Most readers are likely familiar with the academic meaning of a Ph.D and how those who earn the degree are often referred to as Doctor, or Doc. And most likely, readers here also know the alternate meaning for Ph.D. that is common in many places, including my little corner of the world. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I am eminently qualified for the latter definition and completely unqualified for the former.

But for today, at least, I was “Doc.” And in Herber’s classes in the future, I’ll be studiously paying closer attention.