Clan siblings are known by many names, including several nicknames and a code name. From left, meet secret agents Greaserag, Rosebud, and Cupid.
Clan siblings are known by many names, including several nicknames and a code name. From left, meet secret agents Greaserag, Rosebud, and Cupid.

Every family has nicknames.

The Clan is an especially large family, so we have an especially large number of nicknames. Most of us have at least two nicknames — some have closer to six.

This makes getting to know our family a little difficult. Introductions are already an interesting process because we take a certain gleeful pleasure in rattling off all our names to strangers and then warning them that “there will be a quiz later.” Memorizing 13 names is already a challenge, but it would be easier if we actually called each other by our names in conversations. 

Unfortunately for anyone trying to figure out who’s who, that’s not something we reliably do. I’m just as likely to call my younger brothers by one of their many nicknames as I am to call them by their actual names. My littlest sister hardly ever gets called by her actual name, and then it’s usually because she’s being recruited for a chore or is getting yelled at.

None of this makes it any easier for the poor souls trying to figure out who’s who in the Clan. And I feel truly sorry for them.

But my siblings and I don’t have it easy either. All those names and nicknames are hard to keep straight, even for us. We routinely call each other by the wrong name, or half start three different names before we figure out which one we’re looking for.

Mom has this problem too, and it’s gotten to the point where in addition to all our personal nicknames, we also have a couple generic, placeholder names that Mom uses when she can’t remember who she’s actually trying to talk to. 

These are names like Larry or Jeff or sometimes just “Hey, you!” While Larry is fairly generic, we’re never confused about who she’s talking to when she throws out a “Hey, you!” And when that happens, you can be sure everyone present straightens up and pays attention.

And then, as if it weren’t confusing enough already, in addition to our real names, our multitude of nicknames, and names like “Larry” that could mean anyone, we also have code names for each other.

These are really the icing on top of the cake, the final, completely useless layer of confusion that continuously makes people (including ourselves) throw up their hands in despair. If you thought it was bad enough already hearing one person get called by three different names in the space of one conversation, just wait until we start talking about Dishpan and Cheeseball and Moonbeam. 

The moral of the story of the multitude of Clan nicknames, then, is that we’ll answer to pretty much anything: our name, a nickname, a code name, or even a sibling’s name if we’re not paying attention. I couldn’t count the number of times Mom has called me by the wrong name and I’ve still looked up.