My father hung out with a bunch of guys whose real names I never knew. Gabby was a motormouth with some kind of speech impediment. Matches had done time for arson. The Indian claimed Native American ancestry and the A-rab was of Armenian descent. The names were often cruel, either pointing out some physical trait (Dummy was deaf and mute), unashamedly racist, and mostly funny (when I had to tell my father Joe Asshole called it was one of the few times I could curse without fear of reprimand).Yet no one ever spoke out against his moniker (Dummy, of course kept his own counsel). Frankly, many of these guys names would not be allowed on today’s promiscuously permissive network television. But not all the nicknames were brutal or offensive. My father gave the nickname Mozambique to a guy at the local Chinese restaurant because that was where the guy had lived before moving to the States. My cousin was Bake, not because of drug use, but in an attempt to dry his sneakers, he melted them in the oven.
Perhaps because I grew up in a more middle class society than my father, few of my friends had nicknames. There was Rumpa the phantom dumpa, a guy who, during a football game, had to relieve himself in the woods next to the field. And another classmate was the Professor because he did so well on some standardized tests in middle school. Maybe nicknames are a function of class, I don’t know. But I do know that a good nickname is gold.
My brother spent the last few years in Bangkok, Thailand where he earned the nickname Mikey Mao. He learned that it is derived from Kee Mao, Thai for shit drunk, an amazingly accurate moniker. Marco, Highland Kitchen’s peerless general manager, has somehow earned the nickname Juice (don’t ask, it’s our secret). And our former sous chef, Chris Thompson, had the ironic nickname Mariposa.
I like a good nickname. I have had a few myself. When I was a 5’10” seventh grader I got the hung with Moose. As one of the very few 30+ year olds to work at B Side, I was known as Pops. And when my roommate worked at Eastern Standard, he called me Steamboat so often that many of his fellow employees knew me by no other name.
But perhaps its the nickname I was given in high school that illustrates why the folks at Highland Kitchen have allowed me this forum. Perhaps Mark and Marci noticed the same thing Paul Lloyd and Jimmy Hackett noticed sitting around the basement at Kristen Clough’s house. Or when I was in Elliot Lillian’s class and raising my hand when people were praying for the topic to change. Whenever I would open my mouth to either answer or question whoever spoke before me, Jimmy and Paul would raise a peace sign and shout “Two!” I guess I have been getting my two cents in for a long time.
Welcome to And Another Thing. We are gonna cover a lot of ground here, so you might as well get yourself a drink.
Thanks for coming
Joe “Two Cents” McGuirk
o btdubs Pete Rose was of course Charlie Hustle, and played for a team with a great nickname, the Big Red Machine