I know you could make an argument that nicknames are not a geographically specific occurrence. Everywhere you go you’ll find Dannys, Mikes, and Jeffs. (Or maybe that’s just my family.)(*Rimshot*) BUT. In all the places I lived, it was never a thing so much as it is out here.
EVERY name gets a nickname on Long Island. Even the ones you wouldn’t think lend themselves to shortening.
Take my name, for instance. Justine doesn’t really break down into anything you would want to be called in a professional setting. (My family’s favorite, “Justeenie-Weenie” isn’t exactly a title you parade in the public sphere.)(Oh…oops.)(Oh well. I am who I am.)
That being said, I have two Long Island friends who regularly call me “Jus.” (Rhymes with “fuss.”) I’m pretty sure I always react with a bit of surprise when they address me as such (I’ve never heard it until I moved here!), but it’s not like I mind. It’s just interesting.
Other names I’ve heard shortened that I wouldn’t expect:
Garrett –> Gah
Sara –> Sa
Cassandra –> also Sa
And pretty much everyone goes by the shortened version of their given name: Chris, Steve, Mel.
Or adds an “ee” sound to the end: Joey, Mikey, Jimmy.
None of those things are particularly revolutionary when you happen upon them one at a time, but when it’s virtually everyone you meet, you start to notice.
It becomes especially apparent whenever the hubs and I talk about names for our hypothetical children. (No, we’re not talking about it seriously yet. It’s more like a, “Hey, you know what’s kind of a neat name?” toss-it-out-there convo.)(I’M NOT PREGNANT.)
For example, my favorite names are Henry (or Henrik, as I’ve bargained Joey down to…because there is a goalie in the NHL named Henrik so it’s more acceptable…apparently) or Harrison for a boy and Clara or possibly Hannah for a girl.
Now, whenever I pitch a name, Joey (or honestly, any Long Island friend of mine with whom I would chat about baby names)(…they’re mostly female) will usually say something starting with, “And then we would call them [insert appropriate nickname here].”
For example, when I told my friend Megan about Henry/Henrik, she immediately replied, “And then you could call him Hank!”
Now, I actually kind of like the sound of that. But it was still a surprise to me that the first thing on her mind was that he would actually be called something else. It was similar when I mentioned Harrison to Joey. “People will probably call him Harry.”
Interestingly enough, I’m actually okay with that nickname too. (Maybe I’m subconsciously picking names that have nicknames that don’t drive me up the wall?) It’s more the principle of the idea.
Can’t we just call them by their names?
Of course, I’m sure if I push the issue enough, I can at least get friends and family to call them by whatever name we give them. (Once they hit middle school, though, they’re on their own.) Clara/Hannah would probably only have to suffer through cutesy family nicknames (Clare-Bear and Hannah-Banana seem to be popular options.), but who knows? They could be the Cla and Ha of their generation with how things go around here.
Am I totally off-base thinking this is just a Long Island thing? Or was I just not in a nickname kind of crowd growing up? Bigger question: Do YOU have a nickname, embarrassing/weird or otherwise?