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with Rod Moser, PA, PhD

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Names and Nicknames

Growing up, we all had nicknames. There was Bird, Thumpus, Special, Getchaoutside, just to name a few. In college, nicknames were mandatory, like Alf, Hally, Charlie Trombone, Quickdraw, and Irwin. Of course, I had a nickname, too. It was a legacy, since my brother (Larry) had it first. Our nickname is Moe. My brother has a son that took over the nickname, but my son, Ryan, never fully adopted it. I even gave him my gold ring with the raised letters, MOE, on it. A few people refer to him “Mo” (without the “e”).

I grew up with the Three Stooges and my favorite Stooge (if you had to pick) was Moe, the self-appointed leader. My brother’s real name was Larry (Well, Rupert actually), so that seemed to be a good fit for a nickname. We didn’t have a Curly, but my step-father was a spitting image of him.

In Japanese, Moe is pronounced “Moe-eh” which means “love of characters”. One of our Japanese exchange students has a niece (Yes, a girl) name Moe. I was honored.

I have a grandson named Dylan, which is a nickname cornucopia. From time to time, he gets Dilly, Dill Pickle, Dilbert, or simply, Dill. The guys on his Little League team call him Dee. When he starts Junior High, I am sure there will be other names less cute or flattering.

I am pretty good at creating nicknames. I have taken my share of punches during my formative years when the nicknamed person was not as enthusiastic. I recently won the “Name the Skeleton” contest at our new Medical Museum. It immediately came to me. Her (a female skeleton) is Anna Rexia. I have such a gift.

Yesterday, I was informed that my youngest son and his wife will be having a little boy. We knew she was pregnant for several weeks now, but yesterday was the ultrasound, or as I like to call it, “The Wiener Hunt”. My daughter-in-law desperately wanted a little girl, but Nature has a way of serving up surprises. They are going to have a little boy; my first biological grandson. I have three other grandchildren from my wife’s lineage. My son is elated, of course. They had picked out a name well in advance of the ultrasound. Regardless of the sex, the baby will be named, Ellis. Ellis Moser.

Ellis? A very nice name; somewhat atypical, but that is what makes names unique. My son, an avid Oakland A’s baseball fan, said this is the name of the second baseman, Mark Ellis. Ellis is also the name of a famous island, perhaps an entry point of some of the ancestors. The grandmother’s family – intensely Catholic – emigrated from Czechoslovakia in the early 1900′s, so perhaps they came through Ellis Island. My family emigrated from Germany in 1790, so we were already here; way before Ellis Island. We probably co-mingled with the Native Americans (No, not the Mo-hicans!) I do not know anything about my daughter-in-law’s family ancestors, except that they are Jewish. Perhaps, they came through Ellis Island. My grandson, Ellis, of course, will be Jewish through this proud, matriarchal line.

So, it is either Mark Ellis, Ellis Island, or they just liked the name, Ellis. Either way, we are going to welcome Ellis Moser with loving arms. Is he going to have a nickname? I have no doubt whatsoever.

It can’t be Elly – much too feminine. It might be Moe, but Moe is a very unusual nickname for a baby. Moe Howard of the Three Stooges was Jewish (so was Larry and Shemp), but no, that isn’t going to fly. There is Moe Szyslak from the Simpson’s, but he is not really a good role model for my grandson, even though he invented the Flaming Moe. There is the Pep Boys – Manny, Moe, and Jack. There is Moe-hammad? (Oops, sorry about that. Please don’t issue a fatwa; it was joke.) Maybe, he can be nicknamed Elton? (Great singer and composer, but flamboyant lifestyle) Or, Elwood? (One of the Blue’s Boys) How about El-beau? No, too anatomical; perhaps, too Middle Eastern. Then, it hit me! His nickname will be Elmo. In Spanish, it would be El-Moe! The Moe. I ran nickname scenarios with some of my new parents of little boys. The fathers immediately guessed “Elmo” as the most logical nickname. I would like to know what YOU think, too.

In my pediatric practice, many babies, even the unborn ones, get nicknames. An excited four-year old once told me that she was going to Scooter’s doctor’s visit tomorrow. Scooter was what she called the tummy-baby. That has been several years ago now. Scooter (real name, Scott) is now one my patients. The nickname stuck. Maybe that is how Scooter Libby got his name?

Elmo. Why not? My daughter-in-law is an elementary school teacher with a special education masters. Elmo the Muppet from Sesame Street is an educational icon (good dancer, too, if you tickle him). Elmo was the only Muppet to testify before the U.S. Congress, urging support for increased funding for music education.

I work in pediatrics, and we have Elmo stuff all over the place. One of the other pediatricians actually wears Elmo clothes. There was a St. Elmo (aka, St. Elmo’s Fire), so this may please the Catholic side of the family. And, most of all, Elmo is a damn, cute nickname. I love it. I suspect my son will think it is funny (he shares some of my warped sense of humor) but Elmo’s mother may not immediately embrace it. Every child needs a cute nickname, so I am getting my dibs in first. If I have to secretly call him Elmo, so as to not offend anyone, I will.

As I write this Blog, my nickname campaign has begun. My wife is heading for Toys R Us to get a talking Elmo doll. I asked her to make a Sesame Street quilt, with Elmo in the center, of course. I have no idea if the nickname, Elmo, is going to stick. My son hopes it will be just “E”. Borrrring!

I just can’t wait until February so I can tickle me a REAL Elmo.

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Posted by: Rod Moser, PA, PhD at 7:22 am

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