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L. Douglas Hoffmann

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by L. Douglas Hoffmann   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, June 30, 2011
Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011

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Where I grew up, it was good to have a nickname.

Hi folks. Averagetom here. Don’t you just love some of the screen names people come up with on the internet? I know a stock market trader called Tradewindy.  Then there’s the bald guy named Chromedome and a guy who calls himself, Stiffroot—maybe he’s a gardener, huh? Then you’ve got that wildly, creative fellow who calls himself, abc123—he should be banned from the internet.  

I’ve always loved nicknames, whether they’re internet nicknames or regular, street nicknames.  And I've always held guys with cool nicknames in rather high regard. Guys like Spike and Spider. Lucky and Mad Dog. Guys with nicknames like those must be heavy hitters, don't you think? You get a nickname like that, even the tough-guys don't mess with you.  

And I know about tough-guys. I knew plenty of tough-guys in the industrial northwestern corner of Indiana, where I grew up; it was a regular Tough-guy Central. Everybody was a though-guy—even some of the girls where tough-guys. And if you grew up in my neighborhood, you learned early in life to get yourself a cool nickname 'cause tough-guys had cool nicknames, a fact as well known as old man Koletta watering down the draft beer. 

If a guy's nickname was intimidating enough, it was just assumed he was a tough-guy. The beauty of this system was that nobody ever really got hurt because as long as they had a great nickname, they never even had to do anything to prove they were tough. See how that worked? 

A good nickname had to have legs, too. It had to be able to stand up as long as its owner expected to remain a tough-guy. One of the best names I remember belonged to a guy whose real name escaped me early in the Walter Peyton era. We called this guy Bear, nothing to do with "da Bears." Awesome nickname, though, huh? As you can well imagine, old Bear stayed tough for nearly twenty-five years, right up until he got his hair caught in the sausage grinder at the processing plant. They still talk about how tough he was. They say his last word was a barely audible, somewhat resigned, "Shit!" 

To a guy a nickname is a cherished possession. He'll cling to it until the bitter end. And the bitter end usually occurs, not at the business end of a sausage grinder, but about the time the guy finds himself hitched-up to the love of his life who insists on calling him Charles rather than Stitch. 

Though my name is really Doug, I wear Averagetom pretty well, don't you think? I know it isn't a tough-guys nickname but that's never been a problem. I've never been a tough-guy. I'm just a regular guy, know what I mean? If I'd have tried to hook up with a tough-guy nickname, it would have fallen off me quicker than a poorly glued teacup handle. So, the nickname, Averagetom, works for me because I'm really just an average guy. And it sounds so much better than Averagedoug, don't you think? 

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