My name is Stephanie Kiyo Baer; it says so on my birth certificate. Yet despite this fact, others have assumed new nicknames for me throughout my entire life.
First, it was Steph and Stephi, both of which were acceptable; I encouraged others to call me these names, as they were within the context of my real one. Then, on my soccer team, we created nicknames for each other. I was dubbed Suzie, which was not as related to Stephanie as the other two, but at least it was essentially in the realm of my real name; it began with an “S.”
Last year, I assumed the name Stuffy when a Starbucks cashier misheard and misspelled Stephanie, which was mildly insulting, given the fact that I frequent Starbucks with startling regularity. Although at first I was upset with the mishap, Stuffy became my new nickname as a hilarious remembrance of the outing. And later that day, when I returned for my afternoon cup, my name had returned to normal.
The names that stuck were the ones I would naturally respond to, thus showing my approval. If I didn’t approve of a name, then I would not respond to it and the unfortunate creator would eventually give up and return to calling me Stephanie.
This was the way nicknaming me worked, until one friend decided Steph was too boring of a name to call me, and he became determined to craft a new nickname for me.
After a week of trial names, he landed on the name Stacker to take the place of Steph. His reasoning was that Stacker was a strong kind of nickname, and of course, it reminded him of fast food, specifically Burger King’s BK™ Stacker burger which is most likely the fattiest, greasiest burger on the menu.
When I heard the name Stacker for the first time, I shrieked a manly “argh” of disapproval. He knew of my strong dislike for fast food, yet he still laughed at my response. Although I requested a new nickname, he refused to comply and continued to call me Stacker.
For three months now, I have tried to ignore the calls for Stacker, waiting for a Steph or Stuffy instead. Stacker is not a true nickname and so I will never accept it.
True nicknames are not thought out; they are spontaneous. They stem from mutually enjoyable stories or directly from original names. One does not assume a new nickname just because someone else wanted to name them something “cool,” and it is not very considerate to call others names without permission.
Nicknames are supposed to be fun, not annoying. And until my friend and I can agree upon a nickname besides Stacker, I will wait, with my nose up in the air, to be called Steph, Stephi, Stuffy or Stephanie.