What’s In A (Nick)Name?

Nicknames. Most people have them. If your name is Robert people often call you Bob or Rob or Bobby. If your name is Elizabeth sometimes people call you Liz or Libby or Beth.

As Sheryl Crow sings in “All I Wanna Do”:

He says his name is William, but I’m sure it’s Bill or Billy or Mac or Buddy

But is there a point where the nickname becomes your identity?

When I moved to Boston a year ago (today!) I was introduced to my new co-workers as Kara, and my login for many of my accounts was karamat. So, while many would call to me by my given name, even more started calling me karamat.

It’s a name I got several years ago when working in Maine. I received a thank you note from a woman with whom I did a story. That’s not uncommon. But what was uncommon was the way she wrote my name: Caramat Azooski. Yes, she hacked my last name in half adding part of it to my first name. I have no idea why she did or where she thought she heard it that way.

But one producer picked up on it and started calling me Caramat. In his rundowns he would put “CA” instead of “KM” to indicate whose story it was. I knew it was me, as did others.

When I signed up for Twitter I knew I wanted to use my name, but with a last name of Matuszewski there were many considerations. A) It’s too long. B) No one can spell it correctly. C) It’s too long. So, I chose karamat, deciding to go with K since that’s how I spell it.

That was three years ago. It has stuck. In fact, people at my new job don’t know how to pronounce my last name, which is fine, and simply refer to me as karamat.

Some of my other nicknames?

Da — one of my brothers started calling me this when he first started to talk and then the second brother picked up on it. While the first brother has dropped it in adulthood, the second has not.

KJ — my mother and college roommate call me this. It stands for Kara Joan.

Kah-rah (pronounced like Sera in the song Que Sera Sera) — a former co-worker and good friend gave me this nickname ten years ago and she still uses it today.

Karabou — my husband uses this, or simply Bou, as we met in Caribou, Maine.

I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting. But these have become my identity. And karamat (with a lowercase K) has become my brand. When I sign up for a new account of any sort I first check to see if I can use my brand. Sometimes I’m early enough to the game that it’s not taken, sometimes I have to go with something else.

Who knows how long this will last, or if it will change at some point. For now, I’m embracing it.

What’s your nickname? How did you get it? Has it become your brand? How do you use?

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2 responses to “What’s In A (Nick)Name?

  1. I have used the nickname Critter [Cr1tt3r] online as well as in many of my adult life situations, because years ago, while hiking in Mariaville [Maine] and over into Otis [Maine] Myself and a few of my friends, after resting on top of Rebel Hill, Spotted a smaller Maine Black Bear just south of us. Being the curious one, i approached it and actually found it was not at all aggressive towards me. A few hours later, much the same situation with a smaller Deer happened. I was called “Quite the critter man” and thus, the name critter stuck. Now days, i numberize it as Cr1tt3r, but the essence is still there.

  2. In conversation, I often have to catch myself from referring to you as karamat (unsuccessfully most of the time).

    I have been blessed (and cursed) by having a name generally uncommon in these parts. Of course, mispronunciation and bad spelling have led to a list of nicknames worthy of its own tome.

    I like to think that the anomalous quality of my name has helped it to become a brand. There are very few Gibrans in Bangor, Maine to confuse me with (and those that could have been dealt with). Alas, it only works best when spelled correctly. http://wpdavis.com/itsallgibrangrahamsfault/

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