Thursday, April 24, 2008

Country Roots Exposed

I went to a family wedding last weekend. It was a lovely affair. Everyone was well-dressed and well behaved. The bride and groom, in their early twenties, are brimming with potential. He is a high school biology teacher. She has just been accepted into medical school. They will have beautiful, intelligent babies.
I have to interject a true story here. I was sitting by an elderly gentleman who seemed to be enjoying the music provided by a string trio. He said, "Whoa. That's the biggest violin I've ever seen." I said, "Um, that's a cello." This is just to give you, blog reader, a frame of reference.
I sat on the groom's side, and I was forced by proximity to think about his (okay, mine too) family. His grandmother (my aunt)was a fiery Cajun lady. My father's sister, one of 14 children, she squeezed a lot out of life. She made me laugh and I loved her.
There were some things about her family I still don't quite understand, though. One of them was a strong tendency to use nicknames for her children and grandchildren. This came roaring back to me when my father looked at my cousin Michael and said to me, "Do you remember Cochise? I said, "Yes, I know Michael," as he laughed uncomfortably. The nickname switch turned on, I began an inventory of the people surrounding me: Hoss, Twin, Boll Weevil, just to name a few. Missing were Coon, Wooster, Kiki and others. You get the idea.
The thing is, I never have addressed these folks by anything other than their names. I think the agricultural nicknames just make me uncomfortable. Maybe I'm really afraid of what they might call me if they think about it too much.

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