Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sometimes, they call me Willie.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

It's true isn't it?  It doesn't really matter what they call us, but, then again, yes it does.  I get a different sense from each person that uses one of my monikers.  It could be the body language that goes with them or vocal inflections, but I hear them all differently, and I react to them that way.  They call me Bill, Billy, Will, Yarg, Yager, William Allen Yarger (especially when I am in trouble), Dude, Wilber, Taco Bill, Bilbo Baggins, Billy-Boy, and yes, sometimes they call me Willie.

     My dad called me Willie, but not all the time.  He would refer to me as Bill most of the time, but seemed to use Willie as a just- between -us name.  For the talks on his knee, I would be Willie.  For his life lessons on the farm I'd be Willie, like the time we went there to bury my dog.
My dad, Paul Cooper Yarger

I was Willie that morning.  I asked my mom today if she remembers dad calling me Willie, but she doesn't.  It's a toss up whether it's because of her failing memory or if he didn't do it in front of her, but I remember.  He didn't use it often,which made it special to me, and coincidentally since then, only people that I have a special relationship with, have called me Willie. 

     One of my first bosses,  Papa Frank, asked if he could call me Willie.  There was a Phil already working there when I started so to avoid confusion, it became Phil and Willie.  You'd be surprised how common a custom this is in the foodservice industry.  I had a great waiter at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa this year, named Trebor.
Papa Frank
When I asked the origin of his name, he said sheepishly, it's Robert spelled backwards, because we can't have two waiters here with the same name. So Willie wasn't so bad, I could have been called Llib or Mailliw. Since Frank was a mentor, I didn't mind  him using Willie, and it followed that the people I worked with there started using it too.  Some of these folks still do today, but a lot of them have shortened it to Will.

     My Mother in Law calls me Willie.  I can't really fault her, and after all she gave me the best gift I have ever received in my life, my beautiful bride.  She would have guessed the golf ball mono-grammer she gave me a few Christmas's ago was the best gift, but she would have been wrong.  That comes in second. It's not like I find all the balls that I lose on the golf courses, but at least everyone else who finds them knows who to thank.  I'm pretty fortunate to have the MIL I have, even if she did move into our town. She is happy to have the regular interaction with us that she does, and she rarely turns down an invitation to join us for functions.  That's the kind of person Willie likes. 

     One of my favorite sisters calls me Willie (What?  You don't play favorites?  How do your siblings know how hard they have to compete to get to the top spot, then?  Weird.)  I haven't introduced her in the blog yet, so I'll do that now.  My sister, Hummingbird, is about 5 years older than me, but she acts and moves like she is 10 years younger.  I can categorically say that she is the only sibling I have, that has bitten by the "cleaning bug".
She smells like Windex every time I hug her.  I named her Hummingbird, because she reminds me of one.  She flits about from place to place cleaning, even if you are there having a beer, and she never lands.  She's kept at least 2 jobs for the majority of her life, one for the pension and benefits and the other to keep her active (Like she needs it).  I think I have this one named perfectly.  She started calling me Willie after working with me at Papa Franks, and she was one of the ones who never stopped.  Most of her e-mails to me start, "Heh Willie" and I smile when I read this even before I know what they are about.  I've got a couple of blogs in mind for this sister, but I'll leave it there for now.  I like it when she calls me Willie.

      My best friend from high school used to call me Willie, but eventually switched to Wilber, which took on a different meaning.  Everybody grows up, but given my choice today I'd have kept him calling me Willie, if it kept him as the same person I went to high school with.  It's natural for relationships to ebb and flow, but it still stings when you look back and see how little you have in common now.  His dad still calls me Willie. He is still the same as I remember while I was growing up.

      My girlfriend, Stretch, calls me Willie.  She's not really my girlfriend, she's my exercise buddy, and breakfast companion.  I don't know how she started calling me Willie, but it would seem strange to have her call me anything else now.  When she does call, it's always to sign me up to work on a charity thing, or to exercise or to go have cocktails. She's my kind of people, she likes to contribute, but she likes to have fun too.  I've got a whole blog on her almost finished, let me know if there is interest in hearing more about her, and I'll put in on the front burner.

      Lastly, my current boss calls me Willie.  He used to manage just the part of my business that fell into Canada (about 15%), but for 2011 he starts to manage all of me. We were peers first, before he became my boss, so the relationship started as equals, and he started calling me Willie.  It stuck, but now the relationship is changing.  I'm not a big fan of management, it's a character flaw of mine.  He likes to know what's going on with his people frequently, which is something I struggle with.  I am hoping that the relationship we had prior to his becoming my boss will survive.  I thought of him as a mentor but really appreciated our nights out together when he would let his hair down a little.  I know he appreciates my sales ability and has already expressed a great willingness to work with me to accomplish the company goals.  If I were a betting man, I'd bet things will work our great this year, and he will both continue to mentor me, and call me Willie.

     It's kind of an odd blog this week, but one that is perfect for interaction with the readers.  Do you have nicknames that carry special meaning?  Special people that have pet names for you?  Do you respond better to one name or another?  Do you hate one of your names or when people call you something in particular?  I had a secretary/customer service person for 8 years that hated to be called Mo (her name was Maureen).  I didn't find out that fact for years. I still want to call her that now, and catch myself often just before I do.  Tell me your stories, and I'll share them with Willie.


Anonymous said...

My wife an I have nicknames for each other, but it would fall into the 18+ category. Nothing explicit, just the words themselves.......Love the blog, Willie.

Christine Wilson-Simonson said...

I've been called Boz...Shorty....Wendy...and Number 6......I'm rarely called by my first name....Most people use my middle name..Christine...which I think suits me....sort of....lol.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that on every card you've EVER gotten from Mom, she ALWAYS addresses you as Willie! =]

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have to admit, I was a little scared when you first told me you were writing about me... but if hummingbirds could cry, I am crying right now... I know I am a clean "freak", I can't help it... really, do you think I want to be this way????????????? My only defense is that I am "Aunt Dora"... so there! There has to be one in every family. I happen to take great joy in it! :) LOVE YOU WILLIE!

Bill said...


You are incorrect. She calls me Will. I'll show you the proof when you are home.


shot2 said...

My husband has always called me "Slump." Why, I am not sure. I don't mind it when he says it, but if anyone else called me that I'd be offended.
Uncle George convinced Uncle Alden that my parents had named me "Maude" when I was born. Alden said that was a perfectly horrible name. George often called me that and I didn't mind.
I've been Gaylie to my sisters and brother through my life and I don't mind. The one thing that rankles me is to be called Ma'am--I hate it.

Kim Constantino said...

Your youngest sib (and my bestest bud) was in Chem class sitting between me(Kim)and a guy named Tim..for some reason she came to switch our names around and called him Timberly and me Kimothy. (I totally got the better end of that deal!) It was cute and funny and she started every phone call and note with it from then on.
To this day, she is the only one who calls me Kimothy, and I love it.. because I love her! :)

Peggy said...

Allen with an E.....isn't that Ellen? Love ya!

Daphne Mays said...

Left out a main point. Let's try again: Great post! The nicknames we like are the ones said with love. The others not so much - like every kid who thought they were the first to call me Daffy Duck. Only my dad, who called me Daphne-duck-eye-aye could bring the smile instead of eye rolling. My "little" 6' brother calls me Sisty (short for Sisty Ugler, but only the Sisty survived the years) and I call him Pesty (short for Pesty Brother). He can do it because I adore him. I too had a dear friend who called me "girlfriend" and while I don't ever remember referring to him as "boyfriend," my husband always did. He died of cancer in 2001 and I called the day he was dying. I don't remember ever hearing it from his wife before or after, but that day I heard her say from the phone, "Milt, your girlfriend is on the phone." She was a southern belle through and through but I think at that point "appropriate" just didn't matter.

Nolan said...

When i was two i noticed that all of my family members had a y at the end of their names(molly, Danny, Daddy, and Mommy) so one day i said me not Nolan me Nony (pronounced no-ne) and to this day my kindergarten teacher, girls in my class,my sister, and some of my aunts call me that and i really don't mind

kmarvin2002@yahoo.com said...

I can only assume that "Uncle George" was my grandpa and he had a nickname for everyone. Mine was Katrinka, but my friends always called me Kay and Shannon and I call each other Sissy. Part of the family culture, eh?

Lovin' the blog, Bill. Looking forward to future posts.

Anonymous said...

There are only a handful of people that can call me Al to my face without it grating on my ears. My parents and grandparents call me Al (and I can call them Betty) I don"t mind if people talk about me as "Al," but to my face I prefer Allyn...unless it's my baby sister. She calls me Allah. I guess she thinks I'm God.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I am the only one who is allowed to call my son Willie. Everyone else calls him William.

P.P.S My wife and I have decided that our first male child will be named after my father, Paul Joseph II....but we're gonna call him P.J.II

Anonymous said...

^^There are plenty of other names your baby sister calls you

My fiancée prefers Jacob and hates when people call him "Jake," although he doesn't mind when Mom says it because he still needs to impress the future Mother-In-Law.

And very few people call me "Kris." I used to get "Krissy" or "Kristi" but I rather loathe that now, although sometimes my grandparents still use that. It's alright with me because I don't mind that they still think of me as little. Grammie calls me Kris, as well as a lot of the Yarger clan, but I only have one friend who I don't hurt when he calls me that.