howto get a nickname

Look, I am not asking how you lie about your own name. I know how you get an alias. You are commenters. You know, too. It’s called lying, and it’s fucking fun. You should try this. The next time you want to sneak into a party, try giving a fake name. You will say it with bizarre conviction. I use “Ellen Olenska”.

You may borrow it. If you must.

If you do not crash many parties, you should find some to crash. But until then, you can use it for restaurant reservations and when you check into hotels. So. Those two things.

But do not be fooled, Countess Olenska. Do not be fooled. This is not a nickname. This is just a really weird thing you do.

This is acceptable! But a nickname is something other people give you. And it is really hard to figure out how to get one. Here. Here is a video of someone else who relates to this struggle. You can fast forward to 1:39, but I really think it will be good for your soul to watch the entire thing.


In case you hate watching things, Marcel “Ace” The Shell With Shoes On says:

“Guess what I want, but I’m not going to beg for it. A nickname. Because you can’t make it for yourself like you can make yourself a new hairstyle, but you can’t say “now I go by the name of ‘The General’.”

“What if you had a nickname?”


So, a shell. With shoes on. He understands. From now on, I will only refer to Marcel as Ace. I think that’s appropriate, even if he’s not real, and it will be unbelievably confusing for everyone.

But we can’t all be like Marcel and just have Jenny Slate voice our desires in the most adorable voice. So, okay, I have a few strategies on how I think we could do this. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Physically altering your appearence: Like, for instance, I’d quite like my nickname to be “Red.” I think one quick way to accomplish this would be to dye my hair red. Except I’m too afraid to do that, so I’m going to have to wear some sort of Lucy Ricardo wig all the time. It’s going to look like Orphan Annie, but fine. Fine. I’m dedicated to this.

I suppose her hair was legitimately red.

Become Katharine Hepburn’s character in The Philadelphia Story: She goes by “Red.” I mean, ultimately, this is a bigger goal. I think pantsuits? I could wear a lot of pantuits. However, I think at best – at best – people would start calling me Tracy Lord, also, Tracy Lord almost certainly doesn’t care about nicknames. This is getting a bit too meta. Yeah, we have to scrap this. SCRAP THIS. THIS SHOULD NOT BE PART OF YOUR PLAN.

Adopt bizarre political preferences: I figure another way to make that “Red” thing work for me would be to become a Communist. You can pull this off in other ways, too! For instance, if you want to be called “Asshole,” you should become an objectivist.

Get a time machine: Look, unfortunately – or fortunately, if you believe in hope – this is the answer to absolutely everything. If you went back to Ancient Rome, however, they would almost certainly give you a nickname for having, say, any defining trait whatsoever. Brutus. Brutus means dull-witted. Caesar was essentially saying “And you, dumbo?”, which is not a great way to stop people from stabbing you, when you think about it.

Moving to a small town, maybe?: Chuck Klosterman’s Downtown Owl has lead me to believe that if you lived in a small town, everyone would call you “Elkface” or something, based on an obscure incident in your youth. The idea of being tied so closely to your past is really interesting, but, at the same time, horribly unappealing. Also, you really have to grow up in a small town for that to work effectively, Elkface.

Ask people: This never works. People will humor you for three days, tops. It has to be their idea.

Wear the face of an elk: I’m just trying to spitball, here.

Wear the face of an elk with a red wig: I think this is going to push me into Red territory.

Anyhow, I think what we’re come to, here, is “There is no good way to get a nickname.” Not really. But let’s pretend there was. What nickname would you want?

Yours sincerely,

Ellen “Red” Olenska.