People often raise an eyebrow, or otherwise express surprise, when I tell them my email address. “Skippy?” they say. This is usually followed by “Why Skippy?” The answer is surprisingly mundane, but that won’t stop me from writing a lengthy post about the matter! And it has nothing to do with peanut butter, or a kangaroo.
AdolescenceFor most of my childhood I was Scott. When I hit middle school I was usually called by my last name at school, since there was another Scott in my class. Presumably the other Scott was the cooler one, because he got to use the name. I’ve never figured out the social stratification that occurred to relegate me to my last name.
In middle school I also started playing sports at the local recreation center, having decided that the sports teams at my parochial school were off limits to me. I played both football and basketball. The coach for both teams was the same guy. The coach had a hard time remembering my name. I think there was also another Scott on the team, but I think he dropped out after just a couple of practices. Nonetheless, at the very first basketball practice the coach declared that he would never be able to remember my name and demanded that I give myself a nickname.
Looking back, I have no idea why he thought any nickname I might provide would be any more memorable than my given name. In reality, of course, I didn’t disappoint: I suggested “Toothpick”. At the time, I thought myself clever for selecting this moniker, and felt that it was fitting: I was tall and lanky. If I wasn’t the tallest (and skinniest!) kid on the team, I was an extremely close runner-up. I played basketball for several seasons, and football too, and Toothpick I was for all that time.
TeenagerIn 7th and 8th grade I attended OWjL Camp (usually dubbed “Nerd Camp” by those who didn’t go). During one of these summers (probably the latter), I was listening to a lot of Alice Cooper, and had recently seen his Raise Your Fist And Yell tour. I was only too happy to share my enthusiasm for Alice Cooper with my fellow campers, and one of the counselors dubbed me “Coop”. That appellation stayed through my time at camp, and immediately faded from use when I returned home, since no one I regularly fraternize with attended OWjL camp with me.
By the time I reached high school, I was back to Scott for most people.
CollegeIn my sophomore year of college, I moved into a giant Victorian house with four of my buddies. Every adult I knew cautioned me against this course of action, but I assured them that we were all really good friends and that it would work out okay. Living with me were Jay, Pat, Bryan and Tom. Jay, ever the comedian, dubbed the house “The Love Barn” (with the supporting catchphrase of “Help put the barn back in love!”).
I have a lot of mixed feelings about the Love Barn. In hindsight, it was a great experience, and we had a lot of fun there. While I was actually living there, though, it was a veritable hell on earth, with five strong-willed egotistical guys constantly trying to one-up one another. I couldn’t live out the entire lease, and left after about 9 months. I was lucky to be able to still call Tom a friend at the end of my residence.
At the Love Barn we did basically three things: watch “Talk Soup” with Greg Kinnear whenever it was on, play Super Mario Kart or Madden ‘97 (the latter was the preferred conflict resolution method, and more often then not determined who’s turn it was to wash dishes), and occasionally do our home work. One day, Tom, Bryan, Pat and I were engaged in a Madden ‘97 tournament ladder while Jay was at class. Jay came home early and burst into the living room announcing “We need nicknames!” This was not uncharacteristic of Jay: he would often make wild pronouncements with little provocation.
Jay looked at Tom and declared “You’re like a little elf boy! You ARE an elfboy!” Thus was Tom ever after known as Elfboy. I fell next to Jay’s gaze and he exclaimed “Skippy!” with no other commentary. After this, Jay ran out of steam, and assigned no more nicknames. Instead, he retired to his room to do his homework. There was a surprised silence in the wake of his exit, but then the four of us returned to our game. Tom and I each secretly believed that the moment had passed, and that the nicknames would not stick. Boy were we wrong.
As time went on, more and more people referred to me as Skippy. As it became commonplace amongst all my friends, so too did it trickle up to my parents, who would call me by my nickname when they called or came to visit me at the Love Barn.
Now You KnowSo that’s the exciting tale of “Why Skippy?” I’ve been Skippy for over a dozen years now. I answer to it automatically whenever people – even complete strangers – say things like “Damn Skippy!” People have experimented with various permutations: Skip, Skipford, Skipmeister, Baron Von Skippy, and who knows what else. There are a great many people who know my given name, but only ever refer to me as Skippy. Although I rarely refer to myself as Skippy, there are occasions where I’m better known for that name (or this domain) and so rely on it when introducing myself.
Skippy is not a particularly common nickname (except, apparently, for pets), and yet I still find it extremely hard to secure the skippy username when signing up for new online services!