I haven't been great about writing lately, so I am cheating by putting up a post that I wrote on my original blog in 2005. It's about nicknames we give people:
Zira - Planet of the Apes
A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about a neighbor who I thought was kind of annoying. I never mentioned his name but because this is Iowa City, she figured out who he was and told me that she and her friends used to call him Senor Scratchy Patches because of what she described as "an unfortunately placed skin condition that he felt at liberty to touch". Gross...but that's what makes it funny.
Ever since then I've been thinking about nicknames and remembering monikers that were given to different cutomers at all the various bars and restaurants I've worked. When you wait on people, you don't always remember their names and nicknames really help reference people. Sometimes the monikers are based on their order - like there has been a mocha man at almost every coffee shop I've ever worked at and when I worked at The Mill there was that jesus freak guy we always called the chicken man. Then sometimes the nicknames are just mean and those are usually reserved for customers who are annoying and/or rude and people who don't tip well.
One of my favorites was from when I worked as a bartender at Macy's in San Francisco in 1986. There was a woman who we always called Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes. She was never just plain Zira, it was always the whole, long name. I thought she looked more like a combination of Zira and Ruth Gordon but it would have been way too long to say, Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes-Ruth-Gordon. I have no idea what her real name was. She would come in every Monday and be horrible and never tip the waiter but she would put tons of money in the jar for the pianist to play "New York, New York" at least 6 times a night. She always ordered a VERY dry vodka Martini. Which meant she didn't want vermouth. Which meant what she really wanted was vodka with an olive but she was too pretentious to order that. So, instead the waiters would come up to the bar and sing, "Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes" and I would know exactly what to make. It was way more fun than giving me the order the regular way.
But while I was laughing at all the nicknames I've always labeled other people with, I did have to stop and wonder what nicknames people may have for me. It's not like I can stop one of the guys at the Co-op and ask them if they have another name they call me. I'm sure they wouldn't tell me if they did and would I want to know? If it was bad enough, I'd have to start going to the Coralville Co-op and never be dumb enough to ask a question I didn't want to know the answer to again.