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Cracking the Nickname Code, It’s Ludicrous

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet)

Honey. Sugar Pie. Dork. Nicknames. That substitute moniker is sometimes assigned to people, places, or things instead of their given name. The habit of nicknaming people has been around for centuries, and those nicknames are popularly used. A nickname is acquired at any age, and often there is no code to crack. Some people get nicknames in childhood and retain them for life. Others eagerly shed them when they become adults.

My mother’s nickname for me was Lo. When I was in high school my best friend called me Retsie. Don’t ask, because I don’t know how my friend came up with that, but it was unique.

Do you have a nickname? What’s yours?

I’ve compiled a list of nicknames of some of my family members and friends. Some of them I easily recall. Others were reluctantly shared with me with the promise that I would not reveal their identity.  We have:  Andre, Bay-Bay, Big Bro, Boot, Bootsey, Buddy, Butch, Chico, Cookie, Crutches, Froggy, Jo-Jo, June Bug, Kip, Kippy, Little Bro, Min-gin, Moose, Nita, Peanut, Pickles, Po boy,  Pooche, Rai Rye, Sain, Skeet, Skip, Toot, and Whimpey. Initials as nicknames are also popular. AJ, CJ, DJ, JD, JJ, JR and RJ immediately come to mind. Raise your hand if you recognize your nickname. Don’t be shy; no one can see you through the screen.

Nicknames are so commonly used that sometimes a person’s given name is unknown. Even family members who have for a lifetime heard a relative called by a nickname might not know the person’s first name. For instance, when my son was born, I named him Kyle. I didn’t know until days later when my mother said to me, “You know that’s your cousin’s name.” “Which cousin?” I asked. “Your cousin, Kip’s name, is Kyle.” Who knew? I surely didn’t because throughout my life I had only know him as Kip.  One day, I was discussing my name blunder with Kip’s mother, my Aunt Ida. “I just liked the name,” I told her. “So do I,” she said before telling me that she was thrilled that I had chosen that name.

Nicknames are often given to denote familiarity, kindness, or to show affection. Take “Boo” for instance. It is usually a term of endearment that signifies love. It is also one of the most common nicknames bestowed on anyone from a loving companion, to a dear child, to a BFF (best friend forever).

Sometimes nicknames substitute for traditional titles. Like grandmother. I know people whose grandchildren call them, Nana, Ditt, Gram, Grammy, and G-Mom. I’ve always preferred the standard “grandma” but grew used to my grands when they were toddlers calling me GeGe (pronounce as if you were saying GoGo, only substitute the o with an e). Occasionally, one of them still refers to me as GeGe. And I love it!

Many people are stuck with nicknames given by family, friends, or frenemies. Some people are fond of their nicknames. Other’s detest them. One of my childhood playmates was nicknamed Weegee (pronounced like Ouija Board). Her family and all of the neighbors called her that. Although she answered to it, I always felt that she didn’t like the handle. I never did learn her real name.

Colors are popular nicknames. Most of us have known people whose nicknames are Black, Blue, Red, Rose, Pink, and Whitey.

Famous and infamous people have strange and sometimes embarrassing nicknames. Caryn Elaine Johnson has an interesting story about how she flatulently gained the nickname, Whoopi. The man we call Tiger Wood’s birth name is Eldrick Tont Woods. And who doesn’t refer to Jennifer Lynn Lopez as J.Lo? Many Baby Boomers remember comedians John Elroy Sanford as Redd Foxx, Loretta Mary Aiken was Moms Mabley, and Durham, North Carolina native Dewey Markham whose fans affectionately remember him as Pigmeat Markham. Perhaps most prominent among this group of well-known people was the man whose birth name was Malcolm Little. He had several nicknames over his lifetime:  Red, Detroit Redd, El-Shabazz, El-Hajj Malik , but he was widely known as Malcolm X.

Back in the day, Al Capone’s moniker was ‘Scarface.’ Mobster Benny Siegel was called ‘Bugsy.’

Even presidents are not spared nicknames. Some of his activities as a young man, a circuit lawyer, and eventually president of the U.S. earned Abraham Lincoln the nickname Honest Abe. Richard Nixon, infamous for Watergate, carried Tricky Dick to his grave. Beloved President Barack Obama was bestowed the name Barry O’Bomber by his high school basketball teammates. I am prudently self-censoring the nicknames for the current president.

By the way, Ludicrous is the nickname and stage name of the rapper/actor whose real name is Christopher Brian Bridges.

Whether you hold on to and cherish a nickname or shed it, remember William Claude Dukenfied aka W.C. Fields said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

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Thank a Mother – Revisited Again

A message for women who have a good man. What many Boomers know and some Gen Xers and Millenials have yet to learn.

If you are in a relationship with — or married to — a man who you love because he respects you, provides for you, and treats you like his queen – thank his mother. Listen up women, while nothing is set in stone, there is much truth to the adage that the way a man treats his mother reflects on how he will treat you.

We’ve all heard conversations on TV talk shows and among women who we know personally, where the subject is mother bashing — not their mother, but his. I am talking about women who are filled with resentment or envy because they begrudge the relationship between their man and his mother.

I discount the myth that sons who are close to their mothers are mama’s boys, in every sense of the words, though in some cases it is true. I’ve known a couple of mama’s boys in my lifetime, who could not cut that apron string. Bye-bye baby. However, the closeness between a mother and her son could indicate that he is a loving man, who knows how to treat a woman because he learned from his mother how a good woman deserves to be treated. He’s the kind of man that most women want.

Whether a son is raised by a strong, determined mother in a wholesome, nuclear family unit, or in the home of a struggling, yet well-grounded, single mother, if he has the guidance and the mindset to do so — that boy will grow up to be a well-adjusted, independent man. And ask just about any woman what qualities she desires in a loving relationship with her man and many will tell you that – aside from the essentials like respect, love, trust, and accountability — affection is high on her list of desirable traits.

From the time my two children were born I constantly showered them with hugs and kisses. Such affection is the norm in our family. When divorce forced me to become a single working parent and to assume the roles of both father and mother, the bond between my children and I grew even stronger.

I groomed my daughter and son to be responsible, compassionate, and affectionate adults. Both of them are now grown and married with families of their own. And I proudly boast to anyone in earshot – that in spite of the many challenges our young family faced years ago in our single-parent household — my daughter now writes poetry and my son is a successful entrepreneur. But this post is intended to be about sons more than daughters, so let me get back to the point.

According to William Pollack, Ph.D., “Far from making boys weaker, the love of a mother can and does actually make boys stronger, emotionally and psychologically. Far from making boys dependent, the base of safety a loving mother can create – a connection that her son can rely on all of his life – provides a boy with the courage to explore the outside world . . . a loving mother actually plays an integral role in helping a boy develop his masculinity.”

There is always an exception to every rule, but more often than not a good man was molded by his mother.

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Coffee — If Loving You Is Wrong

As soon as I get up in the morning I turn on my mister. (Not that mister. Get your mind right.) My Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee machine.

Experts suggest that upon rising after a night’s sleep we should drink water; at least 2 cups or one 16oz bottle. Water rehydrates the body. It also fires up the metabolism and helps the body flush out toxins. They further recommend that coffee lovers like me delay that cup of joe until an hour after we awake.

If you – like me – wake up thinking about coffee, you’ve got a serious case of coffee on the brain. We are bonafide coffeeholics. The good and bad of that is this. We may crave caffeine, but unlike addictive drugs, caffeine doesn’t threaten our physical, social, or economic health. And as you may already know coffee has health benefits. (An hour is an excruciatingly long time to wait for that first sip).

On mornings when I go to the gym, water is my first drink of the day. I usually finish a bottle of it during my pre-dawn workout. Sip by boring sip. But on days when I don’t exercise, all bets are off. Coffee is my go-to beverage. I like it freshly brewed and strong every morning. Sometimes I drink it black, or occasionally with a little cream, but never, ever do I add sugar. Confession – decades ago when I began drinking coffee, I could only tolerate it with 4-6 heaping spoonsful of sugar. Yucky! I know. I can’t tell you how many times back then someone would flippantly say to me, “I see you take coffee in your sugar.” I stopped that. Now, when I need a sugar fix with my coffee, I have a blueberry muffin on the side.

Coffee is one of the world’s most consumed beverages, third place behind water and tea. Studies show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of some serious diseases likely due to the high levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients in the beverage. Coffee improves various aspects of brain function and the body— including memory, mood, and energy levels. It increases fat burning and physical performance which is why some fitness enthusiasts drink coffee before working out. On the rare occasions when I drink coffee before exercising, I do notice that my energy level increases.

Studies also show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer diseases.

Black coffee is calorie-free. Anyone trying to lose weight should avoid the cream (or milk) and sugar (and probably the muffin, too).

Excluding bacon frying in a skillet, coffee is the next best thing to smell in the morning.

Cars need gas to run, and I need coffee. I prefer it hot, strong, and fresh. I occasionally drink java after it has cooled to room temperature, but hours-old or microwave reheated coffee not only diminishes the taste it’s downright nasty.

I’m a frugal hometown girl so I rarely buy gourmet coffee, but I hear that some brands are so good they will make you jump up, click your heels together and spin in circles. Among the top five gourmet brands, you’ll find La Colombe Corsica Blend, Peet’s Coffee Big Bang Medium Roast and Death Wish Whole Bean Coffee. Billed as the world’s strongest coffee, Death Wish is highly rated and highly caffeinated. It has double the caffeine of your average cup. One bag will cost you around $20.00.  You’ll recognize the brand by the skull and crossbones on the package.

I have no taste for instant coffee so I’ll skip it. I prefer to brew one of my favorite regular brands each morning from any one of two or three 12oz packages of ground that I keep on hand. Each cost around $7 or $8.

There are over 100 brands of coffee. Over the years, I have tasted many brands though probably less than half. Among those that I’ve sampled are Maxwell House, Folgers, and Gevalia, but my favorites are Dunkin Donuts (Hazelnut), Starbucks (Breakfast Blend Medium Roast) and Seattle’s Best. Seattle’s Best is currently my go-to brand. It’s mild and delicious.

Let me share with you a mugful of more tips about coffee strength and coffee roast. Coffeeholics don’t particularly care about stuff like this, but I’ll tell you anyway. The ratio of coffee grinds to water during the brewing process determines the strength – the actual caffeine content – in a  particular amount of coffee. There are three main stages in roasting: drying stage, browning stage, and development or roasting stage. Light roast coffee is mild. Dark roast is bold. Many dark roasts are used for espresso brands. Medium roast and medium-dark – medium brands are not too light, not too bold. Breakfast blends can include different types of coffee beans and different sorts of roast levels. Like medium brands, blends are not too strong and not too weak.

Decaffeinated coffee – forget it, drink water instead. I mean without the caffeine, what’s the point? Coffee minus caffeine is like Christmas without carols, a beach without an ocean, a popsicle without the stick. Clearly, I dislike decaf coffee and that’s that.

Take note coffee lovers. To maintain freshness and flavor, packaged coffee must be kept away from moisture, heat, light, and strong odors. Refrigerating it is not a good idea because moisture will quickly deteriorate its quality. Instead store your package (especially after opening) in an airtight ceramic, metal or plastic container until needed.

As I see it, coffee tastes better when drinking it from a ceramic mug instead of a Styrofoam or paper cup.

That’s my spiel on the brown beverage. Stay grounded and take time to smell the coffee.

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Dating Across Political Lines

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

I recently read an article where a guy said that 90 percent of females he encounters in DC are very liberal and seem to view conservative men as walking deal-breakers. When I was in the dating game (nearly 20 years ago before my current relationship), I dated men whose liberal views aligned with mine – except for two who were conservative Republicans.

Back then, I did not discriminate. If I liked a guy who asked me out, I’d date him. My radar has honed over the years, and I am more political than I’ve ever been. In these polarizing and contentious times, for the sake of my peace of mind, if I were still in the game, I would not be inclined to date across party lines. People who date across the political divide can make a relationship work – if they are willing to put in the work. I’m not. It is sometimes difficult enough to maintain a platonic friendship across party lines.

My first Republican flame was a speechwriter for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger (is one among others) to whom the quote above is ascribed. I began dating the speechwriter on the rebound, following a breakup with my then-boyfriend. After a few dates, I found that I liked the conservative guy. He was a perfect gentleman. He was smart, had a sense of humor, and I enjoyed his company. However, there were a couple of hurdles that intruded in our relationship.

Once, when we were out together, while my date was busy buying tickets I glanced at two black men who were standing about 12 feet away. I guess they were in their late 20s or early 30s. I couldn’t avoid noticing the hateful expression on the face of the one with his arms crossed whose eyes were throwing darts at me. He and the guy who was with him were both wearing black berets. While he was giving me the cold stare-down, I overheard some of his snide comment to the fellow standing beside him. “That sister other there dating a white guy. Ought to be ashamed.” That was in the I’m-black-and-I’m-proud 1970s. Society was moving toward being racially progressive on interracial relationships, but it had not progressed to where it is now. For the next few seconds, I ignored him, until my date and I continued on our way and they went theirs.

Our second tension was more personal. It occurred one evening while we were watching an episode of Roots. The character Kizzy’s master was selling her away from her family for something that she did (I don’t remember what it was) and boyfriend commented that some masters were good to their slaves. Well, Jumping Jehoshaphat! Whether that statement was true or not wasn’t the issue. It was simply the wrong thing said at the right time. Our argument that occurred as a result of that episode wasn’t what led to our break up. We eventually smoothed things over, but I decided to get back with the guy that I broke up with before I got involved with the speechwriter.

The other Republican I dated was black like me. But if you heard him talking smack and couldn’t see him, you wouldn’t know it. He was in the entertainment business and very political. It was difficult enough trying to stomach his political views, but I wholeheartedly resent people who constantly berate members of their own racial group. His arrogance wore me down. It doesn’t matter if the intra-racial bashing is for someone’s job, their political party or because they are blinded by self-hate, in my opinion, constantly stereotyping and denigrating your own racial group does nothing to enhance your image. It makes you look bad. I don’t care whether your viewpoint is due to envy, feelings of superiority or because you think that you are economically and socially better off than other people. Don’t let it go to your head. Life is like a giant sliding board. You can be up at the top one day and down on the ground the next. It doesn’t matter if someone is high on the corporate ladder or picking up trash on the street if a person is out here trying to make an honest living then don’t negate him or her. Actions and deeds aside, as human beings, none of us is better than the other. I strongly dislike seeing black people put other black people down and I view racial animosity with more disdain than partisan animosity. My compassion compass with Republican #2 was not in synch. Thankfully, that pseudo-relationship crashed and burned.

When it comes to mixed-partisan relationships, evidence abounds that Democrats and Republicans have a hard time making relationships work. To the contrary, a high-profile couple, political strategist James Carville and his wife, media personality Mary Matalin are one example of an inter-political relationship that is working. According to USNews.com Martin had this to say about that, “That we disagree on policy was tough, but it’s not one of those deal-breakers. We’re very practical in our local politics, and we’re philosophically opposed on the role and scope of government, but we love each other.”

 

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A Red Hook Resident Gives a Shout-out to Old Timers Day

The following post was written by life-long Red Hook resident and Guest Author, Vanessa Staton.

 

Current and former tenants of Red Hook will come to the northwestern Brooklyn, NY, neighborhood from all over the country this weekend to enjoy the 34th annual Old Timers Day.

Red Hook is the site of the Red Hook Houses, the largest public housing development in Brooklyn. Groundbreaking for the NYCHA property of 27, two and six-story buildings, occurred on July 17, 1938. The first tenants took occupancy following completion of construction in June 1939. The area was named for its red clay soil and the hook shape of its peninsular corner of Brooklyn that projects into the East River.

Red Hook Houses is the largest public housing development in Brooklyn. The property contains several parks; Old Timers Day activities take place at many of them. This year’s affair will include events at Wine Park and Coffey Park.

Friday is usually the Old Timers Day kid’s time. The children of Red Hook enjoy pleasurable activities and games and have the opportunity to win prizes.

This year, Saturday’s activities took place at Wine Park. In addition to other events, it included an evening for the adults. White apparel was the color of the evening.

Sunday’s main event started at noon today at Coffey Park. As usual, there is plenty of food to feast on and music provided by a DJ and live band.

Affinity Health and other vendors and services will be available, offering something for all.

Old Timers Day is always highly anticipated by current and former Red Hook residents. Some even schedule their vacations around the date. Everyone enjoys coming together to reminisce about old times and delight in some face-time with old friends and neighbors.

 

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