Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I don't know my brother's name

My brother called yesterday at lunch.

“My boss read your book,” he reported. “Now he’s calling me Russ.”

I had to think about that for a minute. “What was he calling you before?”

I could hear the eye roll from 150 miles away. “My actual name? Aaron?!”


See, the thing is, I forget my brother’s name. It’s not that we aren’t close. On the contrary, we talk several times a week and I consider him one of my best pals.

But from the time we were very young, everyone in the family called each other by the names of the characters in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. Though my parents will answer to Clark and Ellen and I perk up if someone yells Audrey, the name stuck most solidly for my brother.

There are times I forget his name isn’t Russ. My mom will tell me she talked to Aaron and I’ll say “who?” and she’ll make an exasperated noise and say, “your BROTHER?!” and I’ll feel like a dumbass.

Which is why I chose to thank him as Russ in the acknowledgements for Making Waves. To my credit, I gave his real name as well.

And in my defense, I’m not the only sibling who does this. To the best of my knowledge, my brother has called me nothing but Butthead since before either of us hit puberty.

There are times I forget that’s not my name.

Some of that may be a guy thing. Very few of my brother’s friends are called by their real names, but cheerfully respond to endearing monikers like Slimer or Aboo or Dirty.

Most memorably, my brother once spent an entire college term working on a project with a buddy he called Pecker. When Pecker failed to show on the day the project was due, my brother was dismayed to realize he didn’t know Pecker’s real name.

I still laugh picturing that professor grading a term paper submitted by Aaron Fenske and Pecker.

All that to say, I don’t feel too bad about my brother’s boss calling him Russ. Frankly, it’d be a lot easier for me if everyone called him that.

Wait, does that mean I have to start signing books as Audrey or Butthead? If that’s the case, what embarrassing nickname shall I use when signing the book for you?


Patty Blount said...

Oh, Lord, I'm crying from the laughing on this one. I have many, many nicknames. Nope. Not tellin' you about the most embarrassing one.

Elizabeth Poole said...

I don't have an embarrassing nickname, at least not very. It's "Lizard" from "Lizardbreath". A boy in elementary school called me that after seeing a lizard on a rock and realizing that "lizardbreath" and "Elizabeth" sort of rhyme.

But my twin brother takes the cake. If there was a contest for weird nicknames, he would win it. We call him Llama. Short for "Llama face".

One ridiculously hot Georgia summer after we'd just finished ninth grade, my brother and I, and all our friends, had just seen the Disney movie, "The Emperor's New Groove." It's hilarious. We'd been quoting the movie for two weeks straight.

My twin brother lays his forehead on my foot, but it was nasty and sweaty from the heat. So I said "Ewwwwwwwwwww llama face!" (this is funnier if you've seen the movie and can picture me saying it exactly the way Kuzco does when he discovers he's been turned into a llama).

"Llama" has stuck ever since then. I refer to him as "Kenneth" when talking to people about him, but it just feels weird. He will always be Llama, or "My Llama" as in "Hello, my Llama."

Laina said...

I don't really have nicknames (though I have a friend who calls me pancakes because of my twitter icon, but that started because I called her sugar cube... I don't know where that came from) but if it makes you feel better, my mom has been known to call me her younger sister's name fairy often.

Janet Reid said...

I am named for two aunts, neither of whom was ever called by their "real" names in the family.

Which was fine, until I started attending school. Hilarity ensues as people are wondering why "Janet" is going to kindergarten when she should be at work. And who the hell let a kindergartener enroll in nursing school?

It has been a lasting source of amusement.

Laina said...
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lynnrush said...

Awesome!!!! That's funny!

Lori M. Lee said...

That is so fantastic lol. For the longest time my sister called me Dork and I answered to that. Then it went to Pork. I forget why.

Love this post :D

Matthew MacNish said...

I don't think I ever call my sisters by their names either.

And I loved those vacation movies when I was growing up! I think European Vacation may have been one of my first views of a naked breast. I remember it fondly.


M.E. said...

Tawna (aka Audrey) - This was a hilarious take on nicknames. Thankfully, my worst nickname from my brothers is "Minnie - Moo" (like the cow.) LOL

dianehenders said...

You can call me Fender Bender. It's not related to my driving skills.

I'll leave you to speculate about that...

Kelly Shire said...

This reminds me of a situation that recently happened. I have an uncle, Uncle Butch, and the entire family has always called him that. I thought his name was Butch. So, imagine my surprise last year when I learned that his name is actually EUGENE. In all my 33 years I never knew, never suspected, that his name was not Butch. (But, in hindsight, who names their kid Butch? I should have known.)

I can't tell you how confused I felt, and then immediately suspicious. What else where they hiding from me? :)

Personally, I do not have a nickname. But I wish I had one.

kimmullican said...

You always crack me up! Loved this post!

Patrick Alan said...

DianeHenders - Does it have to do with your headlights? Do I need to put quotes around that?

Tawna Fenske said...

Patty, *note to self: get Patty drunk at RWA Nationals and get the dirt on nicknames*

Elizabeth, I like the sound of Llama Face! My dad used to call me Buzzard Snot.

Laina, well now I'm wondering about the significance of the pancakes as your Twitter icon!

Janet, ha! I think one of your clients needs to write a story about a kindergartner going to nursing school.

lynnrush, thanks!

Lori, funny how things like "Butthead" and "Dork" sound endearing if you say them right!

Matthew, I do remember that boob scene (might have been one of my first, too!) though I'm not a huge fan of European Vacation. Christmas Vacation, on the other hand...that's the best!

M.E., it's mostly my mom who calls me Audrey, so I was confused when I first saw your comment. I was like, "Mom, why are you going by M.E.?"

dianehenders, intriguing!

Kelly, I kinda like Butch! I have to confess, I'm always curious about people named Richard who choose to go by Dick.

kimmullican, glad to amuse you!

Patrick, you're a pervert. Why am I stating the obvious?

Thanks for reading, guys!

LTM said...

LOL! OK, that is too cute... now you've given me an idea.

I don't really have embarrassing nicknames. My BFF and I played "Get Smart" a lot when we were little kids, so now we're still 86 and 99. And then we also loved the Royal Wedding (hello? Circa 1984), but she wouldn't play if she couldn't be Princess Di. So when we're being really silly, it's Charles and Di... *snort* :D

this is good stuff. Thanks girl~

Kelly Shire said...

Tawna, oh god, don't get me started on a man named Richard Dick. I kid you not. His parents set him up for failure! And yes, he went by Dick.

Allie Sanders said...

Sadly I understand this.

I went to a Kim Harrison signing not long ago and my sister, who was in TN at the time, asked me to get a book signed to her. My friend had to remind me that Mira's name is not actually Mira. I've been calling her nothing but for so long I forget.

Somehow I got stuck with boy nicknames. I get called Al (short for Allie)or Fred. I don't even know why I started getting called Fred but for three years people would yell it down the hallway and I'd answer.