Friday, May 13, 2005

Well, It's Better Than "Hey You"

So today, I thought I'd write about nicknames.

I probably should write about my love of the "Friday the 13th" movie series, since it's Friday the 13th, but instead, I think I'll write about this.

I don't really have a nickname, beyond "Hey You," and a variety of obscenities.

I've had several, but none have ever really stuck. There's no obvious shortening of "Eric," which is my first name, since it's two syllables and generally speaking, nicknames have to be shorter than the name itself, or it kind of defeats the purpose.

And my last name is basically one big syllable, so no help there, either.

The first real nickname I had was "Sushi," hung on me by the guys on my rather politically incorrect high school soccer team before freshman year or so - of which, at the time, I was the only Asian member.

One small problem... I'm Vietnamese, not Japanese.

So once they'd figured that bit of geography out, I became "Hochi," or "Hoch." That's a long "o," As in "Ho Chi Minh." My efforts to explain that I was from South Vietnam, and not North Vietnam, didn't go over so well.

Before you ponder what I'm sure you're thinking is the inherent bigotry of my high school soccer team, let me point out that most of the guys with nicknames had them as a sign they at least vaguely belonged, and since I spent more time on injured reserve than on the field, it was nice to feel like I belonged, at least to some degree.

And hey, one of the guys, they called "Pubie," because he had short, curly hair. So remember, it can ALWAYS be worse.

So Hochi wasn't as cool as say, Dingo or Turbo or even Whitey (which was because of a last name, not a skin color, an exception to the rule that nicknames should be shorter than the names they replace), but it was better than being ignored. I think.

Hochi came to an end when another Vietnamese kid, with the unfortunate name of Tung Ho, moved to the school and joined the team. (OK, Tung Ho isn't as unfortunate as his brother, Dat Ho, but still. And no, I swear, I'm not making these names up.) Now, Tung didn't speak English especially well, and he played left wing on the JV, while I was playing left mid. (I was a backup varsity fullback, but I got hurt in preseason and lost my spot.) So about the second time we collided going for a pass because he couldn't tell "Hoch" from "Ho," that had to change.

That was junior year.

So, senior year, I wound up being called "Cougar," by at least a couple of my friends, one of whom was going through a "Top Gun" phase and had dubbed a variety of drama-club folks with such movie-related call signs. I drove a Mercury Cougar, so thus, my nickname. It was probably also vaguely symbolic, as Cougar, you may recall, is the pilot from "Maverick's" carrier who's supposed to go to Top Gun, except he freaks out and blows his chance. Story of my underachieving life, I suppose.

But outside of Kori Beamer occasionally shrieking, "Cougar!" in the halls of the school when she saw me, this didn't stick, either, at least not after I went off to college.

In college, on the other hand, I acquired three nicknames of various sorts, plus the pledge name at my fraternity, which didn't stick, primarily because there were two Erics in my class, and I got his name. Which was fortunate, because his was much, much worse, and probably made up on the spot by our drunken pledge marshal when he realized he'd screwed something up but didn't know what.

So for most of college, actually, I was called by my last name, because the other Eric and I were good friends and we even roomed together one semester just to confuse people. My girlfriend called me Eric, and him by his last name, while his girlfriend called him Eric and me by my last name, and I think in the end, he was more popular and more active at the house than I was, so he got most of the first-name treatment from the brothers, or the lazy folks just called us both by our last names. I don't know what it says that there was one Erik when we got there, but they never pledged another one after us.

My two actual nicknames both came about because of the same guy, my later-years roommate, Ed Hayes. Ed's buddies all called him "Juice," basically because, despite being white, he has the exact same hair as O.J. Simpson, who was in the news back then for all the wrong reasons, involving his wife, a Ford Bronco, a knife, etc.

Now, out at school, because of the living hell I was going through with my suburbanite girl, I had my car. So whenever Ed had to go anywhere, I drove him. So all his buddies dubbed me "A.C." Like Al Cowlings, who drove O.J. on that Bronco ride. Not really politically correct, either, but a step up from "Hochi," methinks.

My other nickname, which kind of stuck, was "Hitman." It originates from the pro wrestler Bret "Hitman" Hart, because on a video game Ed and I played all the time, I was always the Hitman. Plus, it sounds cool. Plus, in college, I had the nasty tendency to punch walls, doors and anything else that got in my way when I got riled up or liquored up, which was fairly often in those hot-headed days.

And in some circles, such as the horror DVD reviewing world, I still go by "the Hitman."

But after college, I needed an e-mail address, since my college one went away after I graduated. I got my first job (and only senior-year job offer) by answering a job ad looking for "ace rim rats," with a rim editor being a kind of copy editor.

So, as you can tell from the URL of this blog, I incorporated "ace rim rat" into my e-mail. I use it a lot as my screen name on forums and such (cool names like "Hitman" and "Eric" are often taken), and so I've ended up being "Ace," in a lot of those places. ("Aces go places!" for you Asian action movie fans...)

So when you look for my writing online, look for Ace, or look for the Hitman.

And if you can think of a cooler nickname, I'm all ears. Well, really, I'm all shoulders and bad haircut, but you know what I mean.

HorrorTalk, where I'm the Hitman, where I'm Ace
Sushi, which isn't bad as raw fish goes
Ho Chi Minh, who conquered my people
John Stockwell, who played Cougar in "Top Gun"
The world's slowest police chase, with Al Cowlings driving
Bret "Hitman" Hart, the Excellence of Execution
ACES, appropriately enough, the American Copy Editors Society
How a copy desk works, including rim editors and slot editors

I can't think of a witty remark for here today.


Stewie said...

I get "You're a dumbass" a lot. I don't know if I want that as a nickname, though.

And you did earn one on the set. Did you mention that one?

Ace said...

You're right. I forgot. See next post.

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