Pet Names

Do I look like a mosquito to you??

Do I look like a mosquito to you??

“Whatcha want, Skeeter?” I called across the room the other night, using the voice I reserve for baby-talking to my cat. He’d been meowing at me while I tried to check my email.

Sylvester stretched and looked at me like I’d grown a second head. Then he gave a disgusted flick of his tail and stalked off into the kitchen. The food bowl wasn’t empty, just dangerously low by his standards. I refilled it and said “there you go, Fat Boy.”

He tossed another disgusted look over his shoulder, then stuck his face in the bowl.

I guess I can’t blame him. In less than five minutes, I’d called him both Skeeter and Fat Boy. Those are just a few of the monikers that get tossed his way several times a day. His actual name – Sylvester – is the one I use least of all.

Fat Boy makes sense. All you have to do is look at him or witness his paranoid obsession with his food bowl to understand it. But Skeeter?

That one is a little more roundabout. A long while back, Lee and I discovered “Google Translate.” We are fortysomethings in pre-teen bodies, I guess, because this helpful tool immediately became a source of juvenile entertainment. We spent more time than I care to admit looking up cursewords and vulgar slang in different languages.

One that stuck with us was Muschi. For those who don’t know, this is how you say “pussy” in German, at least according to the almighty Google Translator. I decided it was kind of a cute word. I dislike the p-word, and am even less fond of the good old C-word that rhymes with runt. They’ve got a harsh, icky grossness to them. Muschi, on the other hand, is almost cute-ish. At least the way we say it … “moo-ski.” It sounds like a cartoon cow with a Polish last name. People who actually speak German might pronounce it very differently. But at our Juvenile Google Translate Party For Two, that didn’t matter all.

Poor Sylvester. It was only a matter of time before “pussycat”  became “Mooskicat.” Which became just plain old “Mooski.” And then one day, he was being a royal pain in the arse when I was trying to read, insisting that I pay attention to him by sticking his butt in my face.

“Moo-Ski…Toe!” I admonished. You know, “Mooskito.” “Mosquito.” Because mosquitoes are a pain in the ass, and so are cats who shove that same body part in your face.

Fat Boy. Mooski. Mooskito. It wasn’t much more of a stretch to get to Skeeter.

What is it about our animal companions that makes rational, normal human beings come up with idiotic pet names? For that matter, what makes us do the same with people? If I think about it, I was genetically predestined for this brand of weirdness.

As a kid, I spent several weeks of each summer vacation with my great-aunt and great-uncles in West Virginia. I’d come home anxious to tell my neighborhood friends about my trip.

“Aunt Fuzzy took me to her campsite. We had fires at night and told ghost stories and put whoopie cushions in Uncle Don’s chair so we could say he farted. Then I stayed with Uncle Weach, and we fished in his pond and went roller-skating. When I stayed with Uncle Bunny he had me and my cousins weed all the cornfields and taught me how to milk a cow. And we walked over to Uncle Hop’s and picked blackberries.”

My friends would give me the same “you have an extra head” look I get from Sylvester when I call him Skeeter.  Back then, I figured they thought my cow-milking, corn-weeding vacation paled in comparison to their trip to Disney World, although I wouldn’t have traded with them for anything.

Now, I realize it probably wasn’t my trip itself, but my FuzzyWeachBunnyHop collection of aunts and uncles that caught them off guard. Fuzzy was actually Alma. Weach was Wade. Bunny was Hugh, and Hop was Frank. But they’d gone by their childhood nicknames for so long that they’d been FuzzyWeachBunnyHop for decades before I came along. Why change now?

My Dad called me Thumper when I was a kid. It had nothing to do with the adorable little rabbit from Bambi. It was his way of making fun of the way I stomped around everywhere.  I was not a graceful child. Again, some things never change.

My sister had it worse. My mother called her Toad, and so did I.

I’m thankful that unlike our great-aunt and great-uncles, we let our childhood nicknames drift away. Going through life as Thumper and Toad would have sucked.

What silly (ok, maybe even stupid) nicknames have been bestowed on you, your loved ones, or your pets? Even better, what’s the story behind them?

About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family, humor, Memoirs, Pets, Slices O' Life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Pet Names

  1. littleoddme says:

    My middle ferret (now oldest, sadly) was named Stuffin’, because that’s what Weez used to knock outta him daily. Then he got Tuppence, because it sounds a little bit like Stuffin’, but no one understands this brit term for two pennies, so someone thought it sounded like Chuppence, but I said “No, it starts with a T”. At which point he became renamed T’Chuppence, now shortened to T’Chups and pronounced just as Chups or Chuppy. Of course this is mistaken and most people call him Chubby, so I guess that’s the next metamorphosis.

    I was called Tiddles as a kid. Or Wiggles. Or Bubby – being the youngest of the family.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Chuppy/Chubby is the first pet I’ve known whose nickname has gone through more metamorphosis than Sylvester’s! Sometimes I think we confuse him, then I realize he doesn’t care what I call him as long as the food bowl is full : ). Tiddles is cute!

  2. l'empress says:

    No one ever gave me a nickname, even when I suggested one (because I really hated my name). But you reminded me of a woman I worked with, who had once appeared in an ad in Playboy. After her boss learned that, he always called her Thumper.

  3. Marcia says:

    Love all of your family’s pet names! lol My Dad called my sisters and I his “little dumplins'”. Individually he called us, ‘Marcia-Tarsha, Cindy-Windy, and Lor-Snore’. In high school I was dubbed ‘Rusty’ for my auburn hair. My hubs calls me ‘Sweetness’. Thank goodness the pet names have improved as I aged. 😉

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Yours are great too, Marcia – although I would rather get Marcia-Tarsha or Cindy-Windy than Lor-Snore : )! I didn’t include this one in the post, but Lee and I call each other “Booger.” Or “Popel,” because Google Translate says that’s how you say Booger in German. We need therapy : ).

      • Marcia says:

        Yes, my older sister, Lori, got the worst name,for sure!
        You two are hilarious! Nothing wrong with staying young at heart. Being playful is one of the things that keep couples happily together! You can be each other’s therapists. 😉

  4. Shelly says:

    My two fur peeps answer to almost any name. Its amazing how they understand.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  5. Ter says:

    Oy, playing blog catch up…

    I come from a long line of nicknamers. Right now we have a dog (Tootsie) and a cat (Tenae). Tootsie has become Toots, Scootch, Pooh Bear. Tenae usually gets Naezie, Nae Butt, Nae Boo Naezie Boo. We had a cat named Phoenix who was rarely called that. Among others: Fee, Feenie, Fee Nee Nee, Nee Nee, Neener, Feezle, Wee Nee (yes, I know how that sounds), Fat Ass.

    There’s been speculation as to what Baby Girl will be nicknamed. I’ve already dubbed her Lil Scootch.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Love it! Laughed out loud at Wee Nee : ). Yes, this is proof that there IS something about pets that takes our brains to CutesieLand and forces us to create our own language of nicknames!

  6. My sisters call me Lorn, only a few people ever called me “Doone” (I didn’t like it at all)–back story fairly obvious…

    My pets must have lived in a constant state of confusion (like Sylvester) because over the years I’ve had many dogs and they each had one name and many nick names. Here is a sampling:

    Humphrey (my Old English sheep dog): Bear, Bumper Bear, Humphrey Doodle, Doodles
    Georgia (golden lab, shepherd mix): Gi-Gi, Sweet Georgia Brown, Gilly-Girl
    Wolfer: (airedalde, collie, shepherd mix): Wolfie, Fozzy-Bear, Foz
    Scrappy: Scar-pie, Puff-Daddy, Puppy-Face, Papa, Scrappy-Doodle, Dude-Pie, Mister Man

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Love them all! Judging from the replies, I’ve decided that collecting nicknames for our pets is a byproduct of a creative mind : )! We nicknamed a boss Puff-Daddy once …

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