While we are on the look out for potholes in the road ahead, we turn to some levity from our readers, and more on Australian nicknaming. This come to use from Greg W. Our interjections are in brackets.
I don’t know that your correspondent “Sharon” is full bottle [full bottle?] about Australian culture and nicknames in particular. Her own name is an immediate giveaway, as she should have been known as “Shazza” if she had truly been initiated into the art.
It’s also a myth, largely perpetuated by Big Media, that Australians have an egalitarian culture. We may consider ourselves to be equal with our mates, but not necessarily anybody else.
We don’t have any adequate sportsmen for example. Our sportsmen are either legends or no-hopers, sometimes both on the same day, but never just average.
Another key difference between US and Australian culture is our lack of respect for authority. We hate our politicians even more than Americans hate theirs, and if you have been to an AFL game [we have, two of them, go the Demons!] then you would have noticed how much we love to hate the umpires. Of course that is entirely justified, as they fully deserve our contempt, even when our team wins despite the best efforts of the white maggots.
We are also much more wary than the average American in respecting successful people. A sporting legend might get some respect as long as he is not ‘up himself’, but anybody else who makes too much money is treated with suspicion at best.
I also think that our friend Shazza may have been a bit too patronising about Americans and their use of nicknames. In fairness, Americans often get it right. One prominent example is the moniker assigned to your President Dubya. It seems to comply with all of the nickname assignment rules.
First of all, a person can never choose his own nickname. It must be chosen for them.
Ideally, the name should also be mildly irritating to the recipient, and only reluctantly accepted, if at all. Short fuse is a good example of this.
A person shouldn’t like their own nickname too much. Such behaviour can be perceived as a fairly sad and desperate yearning for acceptance and approval. Somebody should have a quite word to Mish about this, especially as IT related nicknames are particularly geeky and nerdy (although Mish is probably a good bloke who just needs a mate to straighten him out).
Bonus points apply for the more imaginative names, particularly if they are not immediately obvious and need to be explained, but if all else fails then Davo, Stevo, Johnno, Bazza & Dazza are still considered acceptable.
Redheads are still known as Bluey and quiet types who don’t talk much are still known as Rowdy. Bald blokes in self-denial are called Comb-over (Bill Bonner has the physical but not the psychological prerequisites for this nickname).
Mogambo is already quite a good nickname, although in its absence maybe “snag” as in Sensitive New Age Guy would have been appropriate, given Mogambo’s highly developed qualities of empathy, tact and diplomacy. I suggested this to The Mogambo once in an email, and he didn’t reject it out of hand, although he did say that most people usually referred to him as a caring, understanding, nice type. I guess we shouldn’t go any further down that path.
Nicknames are often assigned after the recipient has lowered his guard and shown that he is exceptionally sensitive about some particular issue. Many a nickname has been assigned after a particularly passionate and emotional tantrum.
Consider the recent example with Eric Fry and the Canadian tax trusts. Eric seems to be almost begging to be nicknamed “Flaherty” until the end of time. I’m sure Aussie Joel would have bestowed that nickname already if Eric wasn’t his boss. (Come on Joel, don’t be a wuss!)
Meanwhile, Kris Sayce’s love of Kim Beasley and all things left-wing suggest that he should be known as “Comrade”.
But after all is said and done, an appropriate nickname for Dan Denning is not immediately obvious. I don’t remember any particularly major tantrums or emotional outbursts. You have been far too careful and guarded with your considered commentary. Maybe we could call you “Radar”, as in “flying-under-the-radar”. I’m still not sure.
Anyway, you had better watch out Dan, because we’ll all be on the lookout for the right nickname for you from now on. You may not like it when it comes, but rest assured that it will have been assigned for your own good…
Thanks Greg. Bonzer work, and insightful. And for the record, the only nickname we’ve had for the last ten years is from our uni days pumping gas at a Texaco station in the Rockies. There we were known simply as Gas Can Dan. There are shorter versions… Gas Can… Can Man… or the shortest, Can (which we prefer to think of as a verb rather than a noun.)
But as Greg said, it’s not a nickname we chose, although we don’t really dislike it. It is certainly better than Bed Pan Dan, a nickname that was popular in school but fortunately never stuck, and no correlation with any real life experience, (not yet anyway.)