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I have never seen a complete episode of Jersey Shore.  The way the goombahs on that show walk around full of arrogance, treating women like dirt, acting completely self-absorbed–it frustrates the crap outta me.  Love the nicknames, though–and I do think its funny that “The Situation” gave himself a nickname.  If you’re gonna be so self-righteous that you re-moniker yourself, might as well go big, right?  I come from the school of thought that a real nickname has to be organic.  Kinda just has to grow out of a conversation and catch on and go from there, with its own sustainingly powerful life force to carry it to greatness.  It can do this because a good nickname erupts with only one use–and with that one use, if it’s really that stellar, there’s just no putting the genie back on that bottle.  Giving yourself a nickname, however, is right up there with buying a title of nobility–if you have to do it, it really doesn’t mean much. 

I know several folks with nicknames.  Danimal. Limey Dave.  Uncle Steve.  JR.  Stewie.  Little Bill.  Kimbo.  Retirement Barbie.  Ricardo.  Big Lou.  Do-do.  Tequila Sheila.  Odie.  Born out of a random nothing, evolved into greatness. 

Growing up as a fat kid I had more than my share of nicknames–some I liked–and some I absolutely hated.  My friends back home still call me Bubba.  It’s a family nickname of sorts.  See I’m the baby of the family.  (I like to say that my parents just kept having kids ’til they perfected it into an art form; to tell the truth, I’m almost entirely certain I was an accident.)  Anyhow, I have quite a gap between my oldest brother (who is eight years older) and my second oldest brother (who is only sixteen months older) and that second oldest brother used to call me “Ba-Ba.” I think it was his way of saying ‘brother’ as a toddler, but it kinda morphed into “Bubba” as I got older and grew into a big fat kid.  God knows I’ve been called worse, so I’m kinda whatever about it.  My personal friends have started to refer to me as Paulie.  It’s often assumed I’m Italian, so Paulie kinda fits.  Most people who call me Paulie use it as a term of affection.  I’ll pretty much take whatever form of affection comes my way, barring a few exceptions, so Paulie suits me just fine.  It ranks right up there with one of my more favorite nicknames from high school–Rodriguez.  Has nothing to do with my heritage, even though unlike Paulie, it actually kinda fits.  So my hometown had a factory outlet store for Champion Athletic Apparel.  They’d sell sweatshirts, football jerseys, and tee shirts that had misprints or any number of problems–the company would dump these products for next to nothing (what else do you do with a shirt that has three sleeves) and the prices were amazingly cheap.  You could go into the store, dig through these big plywood bins, and fill up a shopping bag for a dollar.  One of the shirts I picked up was a nylon football jersey that was white with purple trim.  Across the back of the jersey in big block letters was the name RODRIGUEZ.

For three years I was known by that name–most of the coaches, jocks, and other wrestlers called me that.  Most of them did, anyhow.  The rest had ugly nicknames they called me.  The worst one–the one that still makes me see red–the one that compels me to break off a car antenna and repeatedly strike the jerk about the head and shoulders, not caring about the repercussions of being charged with fourth-degree assault–I don’t even want to type it…

…”Paul the Ball.” 

Just reading those three words together makes me shiver with hatred.  God, I hated that nickname.  That is the ONE reason why I’ve avoided my reunions.  You’d be correct in guessing that the nickname wasn’t given because of my bouncy, sunny personality.  God help the person who calls me that now–especially if that person thought they could get away with it today, when they hurt me so bad with it all those years ago.   At least one person would wind up in the hospital, and if we both lived through it, we’d see each other again in a Josephine County courtroom, I’m sure.  I just hate hate HATE that nickname more than anything on earth.  You could be anyone.  Someone famous.  Someone respected.  Someone protected.  Doesn’t matter.  Tell you right now–you thrown down a Paul the Ball, make sure you have your affairs in order. 

My very good friend, who has a nickname–Mimosa Mama–explained to me one day that I needed to let go of this anger.  Her theory is that the guys who pinned that horrid nickname on me are most likely not the same guys they were back then–and that like most of us, they’ve changed.  She says that I’m wasting energy on people who probably didn’t realize they were hurting me (which I would argue as being an attack)–and if they were ever told the deal now, they’d probably feel horrible and apologize profusely for their actions.  

For someone who claims to be a Republican, she sure has some crazy-ass Liberal Hippie ideas about life and karma.

I really blame this kind of thinking on the fact she lives for her nicknamesake, and her brain is slowly turning into orange-flavored champagne.  Then again, all that sit-around-a-campfire-and-sing-Kumbayah-crap about wasting life energy might also be because she lives in Lebanon, just outside of Eugene, which I lovingly refer to as THE dirtiest American Hippie Liberal area north of Berkeley.  Whatever.  I hate it when my friends challenge me in this way.  It ends up sticking with me.  Sticks with you too, doesn’t it?  When you have a friend who tries to hold you to a higher standard?  Particularly higher than the one to which you hold yourself?   The person who edits my blog (whom to my knowledge, has no nickname) is constantly pushing me to write better, write more often, and to keep posting stuff-she sees the benefit it gives me, and she sees the response (and subsequent benefit) it gives people I don’t even know.  Her theory is that it helps me process my journey.  My journey.  Sheesh, what a hippie-dippie new-agey thing to say.   I feel like I should be wearing a crown of daisies on my head or something. 

Okay so the fact that I still have such malicious contempt for the guys who made me miserable for so many years, calling me ugly nicknames, does kinda seem like a waste of energy.  But I’m a guy who thinks holding a grudge isn’t always such a bad thing.  It’s hard to remember why being called Fatso, Fat Ass, Fat Head, Lardass, Fat Slob, and Paul the Ball bothered me so much–but I remember the pain, and I remember I was to the point more than once where I wanted to quit school.  I look back now with fortysomething  eyes and wish I would have been a bigger person back then–let it roll off my back. I am thankful I didn’t let them drive me out of school.  Richard Nixon once said, “Those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them–and then you destroy yourself.”  (See, peaceful hippie Liberals with your free love and your psychology?!?!  I just repelled you with Richard Nixon, dammit!) 

So I found that Nixon quote and got to thinking maybe this was Mimosa Mama’s intent…maybe she hasn’t pickled her brain into bubbles of orange mush after all.  Maybe she is sooo stinkin’ Republican, she follows Nixon’s mantras.   I guess it’s true that if I don’t hate them, it may be the best revenge.  Besides–through all of the verbal abuse, I developed a thick skin–and that, no doubt, has helped me greatly in my career.  I don’t get overly mad with people or upset when I catch someone’s wrath–even when, because there’s nothing left, it turns into personal attacks.  Can’t call me much worse than Paul the Ball, so anything else–hell, even that one–I can take it.  Fire away.  Chances are, I’ll laugh it–and you–off. 

So to prove the other woman I mentioned in this blog entry (my editor) right…in typing this out tonight, I processed a bit of my journey or whathaveyou–and I’ve decided three things:

  1. I will not spend any more time, energy, or thought on the people who teased me years ago.
  2. Although I wouldn’t go looking for the opportunity to drop a beating on any of those jerks, and I wouldn’t be sad if said beatdown got thrown their way–I am content to let the ebb and flow of karma take care of life’s justice.  (Excuse me, my vagina is showing.)  At least I can take solace in knowing they are mostly like fat AND bald now.  How you like me now bitches!
  3. I have started shopping for a new nickname. I will be waiting for new one to come along; all entries gladly accepted.  


Trying to be a better person, inside and out.

His Royal Grace,

PaulieTwoGuns, Third Lord Avalon Place


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