Names, Nicked And Otherwise
THE OTHER DAY AN ACQUAINTANCE OF MINE moseyed up to me and asked me about the license plate on my car. What is on the car is called a “Vanity Plate” – a customized message for which I pay extra every year.
The plate on the Toyota reads: “KRAFTY.”
My acquaintance asked me what that meant, or to quote him – “What’s that all about?” If we had actually been friends he would have already known.
I explained to him that KRAFTY has been my nickname since childhood. It was a rational play off of my last name. Duh! He then asked me if I had any other nicknames. I didn’t know what he was fishing for, but I played along.
After clearing my throat I related that I did, indeed, have another nickname when I was a child. My father had a special name he used to call me when he called out for me or when introducing me to some of his friends. He used to call me, “Shyster.”
For those of you who don’t know that word its, generally accepted definition is as a pejorative meaning “A Crooked Lawyer.”
My father called me that because he was sure that someday I would grow up and become an attorney – a crooked one
The acquaintance interrupted me to ask, “Well, did you ever become a lawyer?”
“No,” I told him, “I considered it, but I eventually found myself treading that fine line between being an “Interesting Person” and being a “Person of Interest.”
Over the years I have managed to successfully avoid one of those.
A career in Law and carrying the nickname of “Shyster” would have, doubtlessly, steered a clientele to me that would have had me dealing in small, unmarked bills and plea bargains. I wanted to have a life where I could look at people straight on and not from over my shoulder.
KRAFTY and SHYSTER have been the only two nicknames that I have ever accepted for any length of time. There have been others that were of short duration and were either highly personal and endearing or nobody’s business and quickly remedied by various means.
I managed to satisfy my acquaintance’s curiosity about my license plate and KRAFTY. My nickname is no secret. It is both innocuous and of minimal interest to anyone outside of the family. Some people are curious, wondering if I am part of the Kraft Cheese family. They almost seem disappointed when I tell them that I am not an heir to that fortune, nor is my sister, Velveeta.
(I do not have a sister named Velveeta. That’s a joke, Son.)
It is so much better than if I had gone with my father’s choice of nicknames. I doubt that the State of Indiana would have approved that one anyway. I like to think that it has already been reserved for some high ranking elected official.
Why this acquaintance had all of this interest in my nicknames I never did discover. My explanations were concise and complete. Maybe the whole SHYSTER thing scared him just a bit. I know that it would have me. My father also had me trained to tell people that “When I grow up I want to be a Bookie.”
Did I mention that my father liked to play the horses?