in the nick of time

When it comes to boys, nicknames happen to help us keep ‘em all straight. 

“You know, Connecticut Brian.”
“Oh, but who are you having dinner with?”
“Which Jon?”
“Fun Jon.”
“Well who do you like the most right now?  Dirty Dave, Captain Jack, or the Bad Greek Boy?”
“It’s a toss up between Zim City and The Italian Job.  How about you?  Seeing Mile High Man anytime soon?”
“Nah, I’m over him.  Onto B-rad.”

You get the idea.  Nicknames come from necessity and foster frivolity.  Once you really like a guy, all the nicknames are for naught.  You no longer need to keep them straight.  He gets a name; the nickname disappears and reveals something real.

You can’t pick a nickname; it just has to happen.  Spencer likes the name Bunny and insists that’s what he’ll call his next girlfriend.  But you can’t do that; you’re breaking some rule.  It will mean less.  It won’t be unique.  “Nah, I’m going to work it in, cause it’s cute.”   No!  Nicknames evolve.  Look at Linus.  One day he’s Lebrinus or The Lineman, and sometimes he’s Noodle, Bear, or Roast Beef Sandwich Head depending on my mood.   

You’d think someone would have called me Red by now.  In high school, I played soccer with another redhead, whom people referred to as Big Red thanks to the popularity of the gum commercials.  She was tall and freckled and wore red ribbons in her hair, so being called “big” didn’t faze her.  Had someone named me Big Red I would have gone home to cry in my wee little pillow.  I already had a fat nickname. 

Save for Moose, I’ve never had a nickname.  I longed for The Wasband to call me “Red” once I saw The Philadelphia Story.  I’d look up at him when Cary Grant referred to Katherine Hepburn as “Red” throughout the movie.  I’d squeeze his hand.  “Isn’t that the sweetest?  I love when he calls her that.”  Sure, it’s Cary Grant.  He can make dumping a woman sound just darling.  You want to go out the next day and find out where you can get a break-up, too.

I have a silver ring from Tiffany’s that Roger brought home for me one day.  I hate Tiffany’s.  It’s overpriced and uninspiring.  In a word, it’s provincial.  In a few, it’s safe, chardonnay, and milquetoast.  It’s unimaginative.  It’s the safety school of jewelry.  It’s nothing to get excited about, like making a reservation to eat at Haru.  You might as well just order in.    He’d had it inscribed, “I adore you, Red.  Love RL.”  He only did it because of instructions.  That’s right, instructions.  It wasn’t an item on his to-do list sandwiched between “Tanning Salon” and “Call Grandmother.”  But, it was ingrained in his head.  Call them hints, but they were instructions.  When I heard someone say, “I adore you” in a movie, I’d tell Roger, “See that’s so much nicer than ‘I love you.’”  Had he begun his courting with “adore” in lieu of “love,” I’d have created a case for “love.”  Grass greener thing. 

I wonder if I’m ever happy with the way things are.  I believe even when I am, I’m always striving for things to be better… which I suppose can be seen as, well, never happy.  But I am happy; I’m just difficult.  Roger air-balled “I love you” all the time.  I just wanted something new out of his mouth.  They’re all just words I suppose. Succinct.  Little.  Pellets.  Of.  Heartbreak. 

I’d like to think he would have said it on his own.  All of it.  I adore you.  Red.  I can’t imagine my life without you.  But he didn’t.  It was never on his own.  I pushed.  I asked for it.  It’s one thing to communicate what you want; no one is a mind reader.  Once you tell someone what you want, as specifically as I did, it means less once you get it.  I wanted what I wanted.  I craved for him to be creative and head over heels in love with me.  The man should always love the woman more.

When you push things and try to control them, they’re never yours.  Even if it’s sincere from their end, and you have everything you wanted, you’re left wondering if it’s genuine because of your controlling hand in things.  If I’ve learned anything, it’s this.  It’s hard, but you will never get what you want by trying to control things.  Exhale.  Breathe, and let that shite go.  If it is meant to be, it will be.



  1. Beautiful post. Completely agree mostly. Sometimes the man would like to be loved a litte bit more though. Spent three years trying to give what the oncewife wanted. She went elsewhere to find it. I'm now the wasband and learned to do fine at letting things be, mostly.

  2. Great Post Steph. It reminds me of my mother telling me, "He can't read your mind" if he could read your mind, well there would be no surprises. Not knowing what's around the bend is the fun of the ride.

  3. Great Post Steph. It reminds me of my mother telling me, "He can't read your mind" if he could read your mind, well there would be no surprises. Not knowing what's around the bend is the fun of the ride.

  4. I usually cringe whenever someone tries to toss around the 'Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle', but I swear to G-d that it seems to apply here. Plus, I've been dying to sound like a gay-ass little rodent and do it myself…

    By mere mention of the 'specific' things you want (things to say, things to buy, etc.), dont you skew whichever result you get? I mean, you set someone up for a lose/lose situation if you mention that you want them to tell you that they 'adore' you. If they don't start saying it, then they're ignoring you. If they do, then they're just conforming to what you asked. If you get what you ask for, you lose, and if you dont, you still lose.

    By micro-managing a relationship a person sabotages any of their partner's attempts at being spontaneous, or any attempts to interject their personal ideas into things. Relationships shouldnt be each individual attempting to follow the others' orders, but rather each person attempting, in their own way, to show the other who they are and how much they love them. After that, it's up to the partner to decide if it's what they want.

    But what the squeak do I know?


  5. Red,

    I always thought Jimmy Stewart had the better lines in Philadelphia Story.

    "There's a magnificence in you Tracy, a magnificence that comes out of your eyes and your voice and the way you stand there and the way you walk".

    No airballs there.

    "But you also were a little the worse – or the better – for wine, and there are rules about that."


  6. Excellent post, so wistful and resigned. Men are like that, and it's awful (and pathetic) how most of them needs to be prompted for affectionate words, like they really don't know how to melt a woman's heart or care to learn. The most one can get out of many guys would be "baby, you give great head."


  7. "Happiness, more or less, is just a geniune something in my liberty" – Richard Ashcroft

    Wise words from a man ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road.

  8. to oli, personally, I think that it's impossible for the affections of both parties to be absolutely equal. Assuming that I'm correct, a woman that loves the man more would lavish attention and affection upon him while he receives as if he deserves it, and often times the man feels that it's perfectly OK for him to receive without giving. When the man loves the woman more, he pays attention without being prompted, and she can respond in turn, since women in general (I'm assuming here) are more responsive to affection.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. NYNY. I gave you the nickname. Nothing flashy, witty, or terribly creative, but it is *my* term of endearment for you. Whether or not it "means something more than vanilla or divorced," only you know for sure.

    Hey everyone, do you wanna know how I got my nickname, "Plantation?" I'll give you one guess…

  10. Stephanie, did you just coin those two words — wasband and oncewife? Or did they exist before? Never heard them used before. Nice.

  11. After googling around, it looks like ''wasband'' [spyword] has been around for a while, but from a google seach, Stephanie, you are the first to coin ''oncewife'' term. Nice!

  12. My friend Erich has lots of nicknames –

    Sir Pouts a lot
    Sir Snores a lot
    Teddy Bear
    Baron von Ween

    See? Nicknames can be fun.

  13. I think I have to agree with Mousie here. You seemed disappointed that he (wasband)heard you and decided to incorporate your wants into his lexicon. While I love your openness, and I enjoy reading and learning about you, if any man were interested in dating you, then he should stay away from the blog. As I have read the "100 facts about me", and others. There are those little details that, were I courting you, (courting? who the fuck says courting anymore?), I would be sure to include. But the spontanaeity wouold be lost. You would always be thinking, "is he giving these to me because he's attentive and pays attention to me, or did he just take good notes from the blog". Doesn't diminish my online affection for you though.

  14. There is pleasure in living because the milestones of epiphanies are not uniformly spaced and the voyage to the next milestone rarely gives an indication of the surprise that lies ahead. The conventional wisdom is that the revelations in this or another blog can be used to steer slyly a relationship. However, it is also very likely that despite 'likeness [initially] leading to liking' the reader and the author can 'grow apart' or at least appear to have grown apart, especially if the reader has always been in a hurry when it comes to self-improvement and experiences favorable ephiphanies unique to the reader. If you do find yourself attracted to the author of a blog and you are a person who constantly trying to learn and grow, consider that with time you may find that attraction disappearing unless there is meaningful personal interaction that indicates that you are not growing apart. This is not a cause for sadness but for being grateful on the part of the reader and pride on the part of the author.

  15. lovely post. i forwarded it to my friends, because we were just talking about how we give boys nick-names to keep them straight. there's Sweet Baby Danny, Doug the Dork, Morris the Cat, Lieut. Dan, Sergeant Pepper, Fireman Jeff, etc. etc. :)

    and i have been called Red since i was a little girl, so it doesn't do anything for me when a guy calls me that — most everyone does! i would rather the man i date call me by my first name since i'm rarely called by it. funny, huh?

  16. Yes! This is a theory I have also recently brought to light. Although, we most commonly have nicknames for ex-es – as they are in abundance.

    Mikes, Steves, Matts and Johns get the worst of it.

    Mike? Which Mike?

    Or, you know, Mike-Mike?

  17. "The man should always love the woman more" is the one piece of dating advice I ever got from my mama. I don't disagree with it now, but I do think we need to consider an additional, important factor: what he means by what he does, not what you read into it. I wanted flowers and words and mush, but my ex went to the pillow store because I mentioned I missed my pillow when I slept over. I didn't get it then; now, after roses and Tiffany's and dinners at Chanterelle, I think it's one of the most romantic things ever.

  18. It is not about whether a man should love a woman more or a woman should love the man more. A coworker of mine has been saying to me for years that you should marry someone that loves you more. In Stephanie's case, she should marry a man that loves her more. In my case, I should marry a woman that loves me more. In the ideal world, you marry someone where you both love each other equally. Who ever said that we live in an ideal world???

    I also agree with NeilPuck. The problem with the blog is how does Stephanie know when someone is being sincere and spontaneous. The blog is providing all of the information of how she wants to be treated, what she likes, and what she wants. The blog makes it very easy for a "player" to come in and use all of the information to his advantage. He will use the power moves she likes, he will say "I adore you", he will "love her more", and anything else that he reads. Ideally, Stephanie will know and will see the signs that the person is in fact being truthful and sincere.

    I admire the fact that Stephanie opens herself up to the world. However, I do not envy the position that she puts herself in because it is a lose/lose situation for a guy like Mouse said. You are damned if you do (is he really saying it because he wants to or just because I wrote about it on the blog) and damned if you don't (how come he never says that…it must be because he doesn't love me enough).

  19. Once, my friends and I were discussing "Bent- Sharply-to-the-Left-Guy", just as Bent-Sharply-to-the-Left-Guy walked up and overheard. Poor thing. He actually looked down, as if to say "Wait…that's my right".

    I totally identify with the "say what I want to hear" but "don't make me tell you what to say" aspect of the post, and I try hard to ignore that impulse.

    I think we all picture what we want our life/relationships/surroundings/career to be like – and we may strive to make reality conform to our vision. Which works with all parts of our lives except for our love lives, I guess, when we want what we want, but we want it to just BE that way – not to have to MAKE it that way.

    The most recent manifestation for me was BEGGING for my husband to throw me a SURPRISE birthday party. I wouldn't shut up about it long enough for him to actually plan a damn surprise party that wouldn't then look like all he'd done was follow my "instructions". (but I secretly would be happy even with a surprise birthday party that i'd "ordered"…shhhh….)

    Mouse, is it possible that people micromanage their relationships becauase they don't want to risk disappointment at what their loved one might come up with if left to their own devices? Just a thought.

    As always, great stuff SK.

  20. Tom — nonono…I was referring to some of my own blogdrama recently. Should have been clearer. I'm sure Stephanie with all her plethora of readers and fans, gets lots of "Well, why not do this…"

    I've only fairly recently tasted the bitterness that people who don't even know you can throw your way. My comments was a little more inwardly directed than is probably proper.

  21. Is it possible that a man could genuinely mean that (for example) he "adores you" even if the genesis of his specific expression of adoration arises from words that you may have placed in his mouth? In other words, does the fact that you have suggested certain language really devalue its use? I respectfully suggest that it does not. Seems to me that the words do not matter so much as one's sense of what lies behind those words.

  22. Hunter would never say that. It'd be more like:

    Lives–weird and savage; not worth much in the end.
    Opinions–Just shoot them.
    Nicknames–only one that matters: Raoul Duke
    SAC–just lost Chris Webber to the 76 'ers.

  23. See, and when I was telling the last guy I adored him, he was infuriated that it wasn't love. I should have been dating you ;)

  24. I think that no one is ever going to be more of a match made in heaven for you than Plantation. He's smitten. You'd love that.

    Just an observation…

  25. First time hello here. I enjoy your blog, Stephanie, and this post was especially good. Congrats on the publishing dealies!

  26. Cellphone phonebooks are a great place for using nicknames by the way. It allows you to scroll through someones (or allow them at yours) without revealing too much about phone usage, call timers, or numbers. For example: BPS, Bear Claw, Boch, Cuse, Doll Face, FAS, Flounder and Hannibal to name a few (as I scroll alphabetically). Thing is, I feel that a nickname needs to be earned, from actions, timing, happenstance. It's something achieved, and not just given out arbitrarily. People could call you 'Red', but its WAY TOO EASY. I mean, maybe something more suitable like "Strawberry Shortcake" (she was super red), or just, "Shortcake" (sorry about the Happy Days Joanie reference) would do, but what does that mean between you and the giver? A nickname is great to share or be referred to as, but it's gotta have substance, ya dig? When you truly have connectivity, deep meaning with someone, you will have the PERFECT nickname. You'll just know!!

  27. Such a great post. I am so tired but I have to respond…

    I had a good friend once who's old grandfather took him aside in the garage one day when he was 10 year's old. "Boy," he said, "don't marry a woman you love. Marry a woman who loves you." Terrible advice, but there's a kernel of something in there. It's about not only following your heart, but using your head at the same time.

    As for nicknames, sometimes they come naturally, and sometimes they just don't. Occasionally a generic will stick, like "baby" or "boo," but mostly you'll need to find somebody with substance and creativity to get close enough to you to find the quirks that aren't as obvious as your bright red hair. If I were giving you a nickname, I'd want it to be an inside joke, not an excuse to pronouce fewer syllables than Stef-a-nee.

    Your post talks about two different kinds of nicknames, and that's where it's easy to get confused. I have plenty of nicknames for girls that they'll never hear. Like your Dirty Dave, Captain Jack, Bad Greek Boy, Zim City and The Italian Job, who's names will never be uttered to their faces, I have plenty of private nicknames. GiantBush, Chocolate Knobbler, The Shocker, TittyGirl, Movie Theater, The Blowjobler, The Beast, are all names that are meant to put these women in context for your friends who have never met them, but know exactly how you banged her in the bathroom of the lounge in Bond St, or how she licked your ass before she even ever kissed you. It's those endeering qualities that earn them their private nicknames. As for their public nicknames, these girls who I've never really known are stuck with bad first name abbreviations like Laur, or Lees, or Sue, or even Steph. I prefer it that way.

    The nickname is not a membership card to some private club of love. Some people will just never find something that fits, but there is a way to increase the odds. What I like to do is think of a nickname that I want to call someone, and then hope they find a way to meet that expectation. I've got one for you all picked out already…

    Let's just pray I'm right, ReverseCowgirl.

  28. Since I do not actually know you- I cant give you a nickname… but looking at your qualities from you blog (take this for what its worth)- you seem to be fiesty, strong willed, honest, funny, sincere, fabulous and courageous. And I'm outside the box. Your blog has so much truth in it. You can't pick a nickname to for yourself and pushing one on the guy your dating some how seems fake and insincere. I also agree with Chris- the best nicknames come from inside jokes, situations and sometimes provoke a story you are embarrassed to tell. Keep up the great blogs Miss Stephanie, you inspire.

  29. What you wrote is so true…it reminds me of a friend of mine who gave her boyfriend a definitive date that he had to propose by. He waited until midnight of the date to propose, and they are getting married in April, but is that the way to do it? I hope not. I certainly don't want it to happen that way for me. It seems to lack something….could it be free-will?

  30. When my little brother was born, he seemed to be a fat little mess, like any baby-fatted messy eater, and my parents started calling him "Belushi." It stuck for way too long.

  31. Cyn,

    If a woman ever gave me a proposal deadline, I too, would wait until 11:59pm of the deadline date. Only, I would get down on one knee, take her hand, and say "Sweetheart, we've been together a long time… But any woman who would give me a proposal deadline is someone I would never marry. Best of luck to you."

    Chris, I dug your list of women's nicknames. "Chocolate Knobbler"? Now THAT'S a classy broad!

    Let me add a few of my own: Old Faithful, Ugly Tits, New Faithful, Dirty Debbie, Jheinous (Janice), "The chick with the ass".

    For what it's worth, I've never had a nickname for any woman I actually liked, aside from the one syllable version of their name.

  32. Indeed. It is what it is. That is it. Let us not force the "soap" aspects into it. Even drama cannot create a better or worse "life." Well, this time what you wrote was more striking than the reflections of silence.

  33. Phbbbtt! Why the hatred towards Tiffany's? Damn.

    I've had a lot of nicknames, both from family & friends. And I agree, "you can’t pick a nickname; it just has to happen." Otherwise it sounds so fake.

    Plantation – I think you got that from where you live. Right?

  34. I was actually given the callsign "Bubbles" in the AF; its hard for anyone to take you seriously over the radio when you have to answer to that.

  35. Loved the post. The nickname game is so true…nice to see its not just a "girl" thing to make up nicknames. And ladies….unfortunately you do have to find a man that loves you more. If you are too into a guy or too affectionate or love him more, then you become the "needy" or "dependent" or "clingy" one. He feels suffocated. When the guy is pursing the girl and controling the speed of "like" then you are golden. Drop the L bomb before he's decided he is head over heels for you and you might be sifting through some profiles before you can say milquetoast.

  36. Neil, thank you for the undeserved compliment. You and Stephanie were the parents, and I was merely the accoucher (midwife) of the observation which you acknowledged favorably.

  37. If another cannot handle the 'L' world even when it is expressed awkwardly or prematurely, it may be necessary to continue searching for one that can. Being able to handle another's possibly undesirable interest politely and with sensitivity is an indication of being mature and skilled in communication, a foundation of successful relationships.

    Understand that love is the only language which you will never speak fluently if you begin by learning its grammar and vocabulary. Love is the vehicle that lets you bring back sensations and memories from a place that you have yet to visit. Love is the unexpected. You will never recognize it when you begin by imagining its features. For you, the appropriate person will appear–on a cloudless day–as a rainbow. For another, it will appear–in the darkest night–as a comforting shade for an oppression from which one had not known that one even needed relief. For yet another, it will appear–on a snowy night–as lightening and thunder. One may discover it on one's lips as a prayer flawlessly recited, but from a religion only known to the one reciting it and the Deity who suddenly revealed it.

    Love is the sacred currency. Love is experienced for one's completeness as a human being and self-realization. It impoverishes the miserly and others who hoard it or dispense it diffidently, cautiously, or only in mutually beneficial exchanges. Love is its own gift box and wrapping paper. It's a gift that one gives oneself even though it appears another is the ultimate recipient.

  38. hi Stephanie, fun checking in on you every once in a while…Like Wasband as a nickname, Husbeen would also work…

  39. “It’s one thing to communicate what you want; no one is a mind reader. Once you tell someone what you want, as specifically as I did, it means less once you get it.”

    I always feel like this with Christmas/birthday presents. I have to say what I want if I want it… but then there’s no genuine surprise or thought…

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