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Why Do Men Get All the Good Nicknames?

By Barry Kluger May 01, 2015 Lifestyle

I was driving to Tucson the other day, when I passed a billboard for the U.S. Border Patrol. On the sign, there was a big picture of a guy called Ernesto Guevera. Under aliases, it listed “The Axe,” “Spike” and “Che.” Guys have nicknames. Women do not.

Sure, we occasionally see women in Hollywood upper-crust movies with names like Bitsy, Mitzie and Muffy. But, it’s not the same in real life. Usually.

My sister in law Lori is Lori. Amy is Amy. My mother-in-law Joan is… well, Joan. But I’m The Klugs. My friend Jim is Jimbo. Marshall is The Guru and Steve is Moose.

I once worked with a guy who we called Skip. He didn’t know why until we told him: the family smarts seem to have skipped a generation.

Jennifer Aniston is still Jen, but, former Governor Schwarzenegger was The Governator. It must be a guy thing.

I asked my wife Hope if she had a nickname growing up and she said “No, it’s not feminine.” I suspect that she believes guys need a touch of masculinity added to their personas – and if anyone ever called her Blondie, she’d eye them suspiciously and say “Excuse Me?!” And, that’s only because one week she IS blonde, the next auburn and the next, strawberry.

I always admired mob figures with names like Tony Two Ducks, Jimmy Blue Eyes and Vinny the Chin. Male/female duos are always called The Honeymoon Killers… or something romantic like that. Women always get away with maintaining their genteelness. They defy labels. I don’t think it’s fair.

There was Machine Gun Kelly, but Ma Barker? Where’s the imagination in that? Clearly, she was someone’s mother. With the exception of Bono and Elvis, men don’t have one word names like women do. We have Madonna, Cher, Brittany, Rhianna, Jlo, Beyonce and Shakira, but, those are just unusual names. Springsteen is the Boss and Richard Starkey is Ringo.

We honor The Coach, T-Bone, The Gipper and Front Line Larry, but, at sports banquets, it’s still Martina, Olga or Anna. Someone once snuck in a Venus, but, that’s a planet, not a name.

Maybe men have a problem because familiarity breeds… something. And I for one don’t know what it is. When men are being yelled out, they are called by their first or full names.

Whenever I hang out at Cigar King, I go through the humidor and look at the boxes: There are names like Doctor Roy, Stand Up Jim and the Maestro. Because I write, I have alternated between The Poet, The Scribe and my latest, Robusto de Corona.

When Hope calls me Bar, I know it’s out of affection. But when she intones Barry, I know she thinks I did something wrong. She’s usually right. I once spied her across a crowded reception one evening and to help her locate where I was, I yelled “Ho! Over Here!”

That was the last time I did that.

Do you have a nickname? Does it feel like baby boomers like to give each other nicknames more than people from other generations? Why do you think men are more likely to have nicknames than women? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Barry Kluger is a 35-year communications and branding executive, having served in senior posts at some of the world’s most recognizable brands. He has been lobbying for bereavement leave for child loss to the FMLA.

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