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I love nicknames and most everyone in public life has one, be they flattering or not.

Celebrities, politicians, sports figures and the like are a cinch to be given some catchy monikers by their fans and supporters and, yes, by their critics and the media.

These sobriquets can be affectionate and humorous -- especially when bestowed by loving parents and other family members who certainly mean no harm in shortening their progeny's longer and more formal names.

For instance, Elizabeth can become "Liz" or "Beth" and William can be "Bill" or "Will" and Virginia can be "Ginny" or "Ginger."

My mother's given name was Mary Virginia but in high school, she became "DeDe." How and why, I do not know. I am sure there is a story there.

Her mother was Mary Elizabeth Parker Proctor, but most of her friends called her "Tea." As I ultimately learned, she was a very tiny baby and her nanny dubbed her "Teeny," which eventually morphed into the "Tea" version that she used throughout most of her life.

"Dot" is one nickname for Dorothy and one of my closest college friends was "Dottie" McRae from Florence, Ala. If I remember correctly, she changed to "Dee" when she went to work for the United States Information Agency in Washington, D.C., because there was another USIA employee named "Dottie."

This Chi Omega sorority sister also wrote for National Geographic magazine and has her own editorial services business so it always seemed to me that "Dee McRae" was the perfect byline -- pithy but stylish at the same time.

Another college friend and sorority sister, Patricia "Patti" Aslin Jackson was president of our Rho Alpha Chapter and she called me "Proctor" because I grew up being told that was my middle name. Well, it was supposed to be, but I guess that in the excitement of labor and delivery, my mother forgot to put it on the birth certificate. Oh, well, I had fun teasing people with the notion that I was an heir to the Procter family fortune associated with the success of the Procter & Gamble company. Guess no one bothered to check the different spellings.

Having watched the June 26 and 27 debates among the 20 announced Democratic candidates for president, I came up with the following nicknames for four of them: Elizabeth "The Planner" Warren; Kamala "The Prosecutor" Harris; Joe "The Defensive" Biden; and Bernie "The Far-Out" Sanders.

And since I am an admitted sports junkie, here are my "handles" for one team and two individuals who made recent headlines: Vanderbilt "The Vanquisher" University, 2019 College World Series champions; Gary "The Gritty" Woodland, winner of the 2019 U.S. Open golf championship at Pebble Beach; and Hannah "The Girl Down Under" Green, winner of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

On a personal note, my namesake, Melynda Gidcomb, and I both decry the lack of really neat nicknames for persons with our appellations. Since she is already called "Auntie Mel" by her nieces and nephew, I selected "Auntie M" as my designated familiarity.

The late Wallace Ballentine referred to me as "M.G." during our years at The Sentinel-Record and even after we had both retired.

Still, I admit to being a bit envious of my friend, Rosemary Sherrard, whose pals and grandchildren affectionately call her "Ro" or "Ro-Ro" and of my neighbor and friend, Sue Ward, whose children and grandchildren delight in calling her "Sue-Sue."

Just when I thought there was no hope of acquiring the right nickname, my good friends, Joe and Carla Mouton, came to the rescue. Because of their constancy and thoughtfulness, I had taken to addressing him as "A.J." or "Awesome Joe" and her as "Classy Carla."

One day, Joe suggested that I should henceforth be known as "Marimba."

I loved it right away and always use it in our mutual notes and texts.

It seems as though this nickname has a certain syncopation, a certain lilt to it and it is certainly better than many of the names by which a member of today's press might be tagged.

Editorial on 07/07/2019

Print Headline: Searching for the right nickname

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