I have a long and tragic history of nicknames. In elementary school I had a number of teasing nicknames, most of which were based on my red hair and/or freckles. None of them are really worth reproducing here. In middle school, I became tall and fat, giving rise to the nickname "Big Red," which had unusual sticking power. In fact, I remember being called "Big Red" intermittently well into high school, despite the fact that I lost weight and became less tall with respect to my classmates (somehow "Medium Red" doesn't have much allure to it).
In college, thanks mainly to Tyler and his undue influence on the editorial staff of the Heuristic Squelch, people started calling me by my last name. You may scoff at my assertion that this is a nickname, since it's my actual name, but think about it. How many people get called by their last name outside gym class and the military? The answer is very few. As such, when someone is commonly called by their last name, I think that qualifies as a nickname. This was the first nickname that I actually approved of in earnest, for three reasons. First, it finally allowed me to escape the fact that 60% of males born in 1978 are named Matt.* Second, my last name means something really cool in Gaelic, something I discovered in high school. Third, despite the fact that Tyler probably began referring to me by my family name as a form of affected disdain, for once it was a nickname that had nothing to do with my physical appearance.
In law school, I narrowly avoided being tarred with the nickname "Hot Lips," a handle which is objectionable on far too many levels to get into here. I dodged that bullet by insisting that my official nickname would in fact be "H-Bomb." Nobody agreed to call me "H-Bomb," but anyone who tried to call me Hot Lips got an earful about the propriety of "H-Bomb." So the two cancelled each other out, and most people stuck with my last name.
Now, as I'm embarking on my professional career, it's time for a new nickname. Fortunately, I've found one. It has nothing to do with my name, my hair, or my skin. It is based, rather, on my abysmal neophyte golfing abilities. It came to me last weekend as I quadruple-bogeyed yet another hole at Tilden Park. I came up with a nickname that was self-effacing, and yet captured my status as a rising establishment hack. The name? "Three-Putt." It's a good nickname because it has a number in it. My golfing partner liked the idea, and said it was too bad that we didn't work at the same firm, since he would be happy to spread that around for me. So now all I have to do is find some golfers at my firm, shoot a few rounds with them, and diligently avoid improving my putting skills.
* In Cub Scout Camp one year there were not only multiple Matts, but there were two Matt H's. As such I was identified as "Matt Ho." Why it never occurred to me to use that as a nickname I'll never know.