Carrie Bradshaw had Mr Big, Friends had Fun Bobby with the drinking problem, this article in the Atlantic lists a multitude of them. Girls nickname the guys they are seeing/want to be seeing, even those they’re trying to avoid!
There are a couple of reasons why this might be. The article in the Atlantic suggests that we do it to protect ourselves from what happens if he just disappears. If he doesn’t call back or suddenly stops seeing you. If he stands you up or ignores you or vanishes in a puff of smoke (not possible for all of them, but it would be exciting!). It’s called Ghosting and it sucks. Maybe it really is easier for us to deal with rejection from someone that we never validated by the use of his real name, but I think there is more to it than that.
Many a romantic comedy and many a girls’ night has been filled – all over the world – with wine, chocolate, maybe even ice cream (shout out to Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough!) and petty, frivolous discussions about men. Who’s interested, who might be interested, who you’re interested in. It makes us sound like we don’t have it sorted (we do, trust me) and we’re just talking about men, but Addison said something last night that rang true – we talk about men because everything else is so sorted. We’re successful, young, professional women. We have good jobs and nice apartments and ambition and career goals and just enough shoes to make choosing what to wear both enjoyable and stressful. We know what we want and how to get it… apart from in our love lives. So we talk about it, maybe in the hope that our friends (equally confused though they may be) could offer some kind of insight that would turn it around. In order to talk about them, though, our friends need to know who these guys are. Telling your friend about “the hilarious thing that Michael did yesterday” isn’t going to help if she can’t remember who Michael is – is that the guy you met through that girl at work or is he the one from the gym? No, wait! Gym guy was Matthew, not Michael! And that other guy was Tim. So who is Michael?!
See where I’m going with this?
We nickname them so that, when he calls back (when, not if) and we excitedly tell our friends about it, they know that you’re talking about “The Very Sexy Vegan” who you met at University or “David’s best friend” who you met at that dinner party last week. They won’t necessarily remember that “The Very Sexy Vegan” is also called Adam or that that Adam is different from “Coffee Shop Guy” Adam or “Animal Shelter Adam.” (Can there be an Animal Shelter Adam? He was invented in order to prove the point, but he sounds great!) We pick a defining feature about these guys and use them as “descriptors”, helping our friends keep track of what’s going on.
Some of them are easy to get – a friend of mine (briefly) dated a really attractive guy who was really not very good at… certain things. He immediately became “Average Aaron” (the alliteration is beautiful) – average in the ironic way that people use it when they really mean “far below average.” Addison was given [really expensive] jewellery (and roses. And chocolates. All at the same time!) by “Love-Bracelet Guy.” There’s been “Bad Life Decision Boy” (BLDB for short); “Cute IT guy”; “Mountain Man” (I bet you can guess what that referred to!); “Dan the Man”; “Umbrella Boy” (a wonderful example of karma in action – share your umbrella in the pouring rain, the universe will reward you with a grateful and incredibly attractive Medical student) and “The Jakes” – they were really keen but were rapidly friends-boxed. What is it about people called Jake?! (Except Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles. He is still the best.)
What do these all have in common? They remind your friend who these people are! She can weigh in on what the fact that you had lunch on Thursday if she can also remember that he’s the same guy that you had dinner with on Saturday or had a drink with on Tuesday evening.
A little while ago (before the sexy musician, with whom the confusion is at last subsiding, just as a follow up!), I had the privilege (yes, privilege, all of you people who think they aren’t awesome) of dating an American guy. I met him at a live show in the city one evening and he was really nice – he had great taste in music and literature and we had a lot of fun. He was The American. Because… well. He was American. It made it easy for me to say – “I’m going to have dinner with The American on Wednesday night”, which is great until, months later (when he’s gone back to America), you meet another American. What do you do to name someone whose easiest identifier has already been claimed by someone else?
You add to it.
Addison, Lillian and I went on this incredible girls’ weekend to a small and very pretty tourist town not far from where we live. It was a blur of cars and sing-alongs (so much singing!) and too little sleep and photo opportunities and gorgeous scenery and friendly tourists… and really lovely boys that we met in a bar one night. Boys that needed nicknames, even though – for most of us anyway – they were just around for a fun couple of hours of dancing and margaritas in a small tourist town. There was a Sexy Brit (really sexy, hey Addison?). There was a Spitty Brit (the poor guy had had a bit too much to drink and spat when he spoke. Decidedly not attractive). There was The Flying Englishman (the potential for that name is limitless!). Now, I hope you noticed the trend in nationality that developed here – they were all English.
Except that I don’t have a weakness for the English, so in a room full of hilarious, somewhat exciting young Englishmen… I found the American. The only American. The Other American, to be exact (because the previous American had already claimed the title of The American). There really is something to that American charm, don’t you think?
So from The American to The Other American to The Sexy Muso (who I have been starting to call by his real name! Oh dear!), I think I’m going to keep nicknaming them. Maybe to give them an easy identifier, maybe to protect myself if they don’t call back. Maybe just for fun, because it is so, so much fun.