Sunday, May 07, 2006

What's in a name?

Where I grew up and lived most of the earlier days of my life, most people had nicknames. I wasn't immune to this phenomenon as over time I've had several from "Wolfie" to "Wolfman" in school to "Tommy the Cop" and "Asshole Tommy" in my later years. My brother and I were known collectively as "The Wolf Brothers"
It seemed like everyone I knew had one, from "Rotten Ronnie", "Earl The Girl" and "Mike the Mick". Women weren't immune to this either, I went to school with a girl we called "Squirrel", and to this day I have no idea what her real name was.
Even if you didn't have a true nickname, no one ever called you by your full name or proper given name. That was reserved for moms who were extremely angry at you for something...
"Thomas Joseph Wolfenden! Get your ass in here!"
That's when you knew the shit was going to hit the fan for something you've done.
There were no James, Thomas or Douglass'. It was a neighborhood no no to call someone their given name. You shortened it to Tom, or Jim of Doug. And even then they were modified more by putting on a "y" or an "ie" at the end to change it to "Tommy", "Jimmy" or "Dougie".
So I've always had some sort of "AKA" moniker...
So now I'm getting a few emails asking where I got the nickname of "Ranger Tom". The short and easy answer to that one is to look at he sidebar to this blog and see the avatar of my old US Army unit's scroll. That should give you some idea. I was a Army Ranger, so "Ranger Tom" is a logical solution.
But it goes a little deeper than that. Several years ago, when the internet was new to me I was doing a little surfing (no, I was NOT looking at porn, no matter what my ex says) and I found this Australian Army website. It was a "Members Only" type, and I had to "Enlist" to read further. I had served with a few Aussies in my time in the Army and thought maybe I could find them through this website and restart old friendships so I signed up and needed a 'screen name". It being an Army site I signed up as "Ranger Tom". (a link to that site is on my sidebar also)
Although I never found those guys I had served with, I did "meet" several new friends, and over the years of going to that website became close to quite a few of them. They became like family and I even met a few, "11 Bravo" spent a drunken weekend at my house when I lived in Arizona and "Dorrie", his wife and kids stopped by Prescott, AZ on his way to his US Marine exchange unit and had dinner with my wife and I.
When my marriage fell apart, it was they who helped me keep my sanity, rallied around me and were truly the friends I needed when all my friends in Arizona had abandoned me. One actually saved my life when I had a adverse reaction to some medication I was taking and called the Yavapai 911 center from Queensland when he hadn't heard from me...
So I had made a slew of new friends, "Mates" if your will, and they even dubbed me an "Honorary Aussie". Edison and Chappers are still a few of my closest friends and I still talk with them on the phone from time to time...
So through that website I not only was just Ranger Tom a screen name, I became Ranger Tom. And from there it morphed yet again into "RT" for short and I carried it over to this blog.
I like the nickname. It's got personality. I don't go by it much in my personal life but that may change.
One day in the not to distant future I'll get to Australia to meet some of my best friends... The one's who gave life to Ranger Tom and made it (and me along with it) a new person with an entirely new outlook on life and made me a far better person that I ever was before.
So what's in a name?
Everything.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

5 comments:

Romancing Simplicity said...

This is a great post; it's always interesting to hear how people come across their nicknames and how they feel about what they're called. It allows you a momentary glimpse into who they are.

It sounds like you've got some incredible friends there as well =) Cheers for wonderful mates who make this journey worth the while.

cmk said...

I once knew a woman who gave all of her children names that people couldn't change into nicknames: Sue instead of Susan, Jim instead of James, etc. But, we had a way around that. We all wound up calling her son Fred, Frederick! LOL!! Best laid plans, and all of that...

Leazwell said...

In college, there was a girl everyone called "Taz" and not behind her back. I kid you not, she looked exactly like the Tazmanian Devil from the cartoon. I felt badly for her but she always sported a smile and had plenty of friends.

Red said...

Good story..

Everyone in my family has a nickname.. I have some family members whose real names I still don't know. I have one uncle that when you use his first name, most people don't know who he is.

Miss Fire said...

Interesting story. Australia rocks!