Pet Names Are A Persistant Remnant of Childhood

Jhumpa Lahiri

“Pet names are a persistant remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated. They are a reminder, too, that one is not all things to all people.”
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Number one, author Jhumpa Lahiri is fine. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way …

I introduce myself to damn near everyone as “Jay Fingers.” It’s a college nickname that stuck, and it’s actually served to help me stand out in . While some people do ask if it’s my real name, most realize right away that it’s just a cute little sobriquet and are generally unperturbed by it. There is a small contingent of people, however, who will scoff upon hearing me addressed as “Fingers.” I’ll never forget the young woman who, after I’d be introduced to her by my nickname, sucked her teeth and said, “Well, if that’s what you want to be called.”

She was then immediately scolded by her friends. You see, I was promoting a party and actually hooking them up; they were afraid I would take the insult to heart and leave them standing outside the velvet rope. Luckily, I am not that thin-skinned.

Anyway, one of the major reasons I cling to the “Fingers” moniker is, as quoted above, it reminds me that everything ain’t so serious. It’s okay that to retain the sense of fun we had when we were younger. It’s okay to let go of the formalities.

But perhaps most important, it allows me to defy any sort of categorization that people would like to place on me. My CV is impressive, hombre, and y’all still ain’t seen nothing yet. But this kid named Fingers is gonna show you.

That’s right, my name’s Fingers. That’s what I want to be called.

[Teaching Literacy]


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