Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pete and Repeat

Anne Schroeder has a funny item about one of Jim McDermott's staffers who unleashed the hounds of Hell on an unfortunate correspondent who made the mistake of shortening her name, Elizabeth, to Liz in an email. "Liz" just goes on and on, won't let it drop, is obviously an unhinged bitch, etc., etc.

But I totally know how she feels. I've got one of those names, Peter, which people routinely decide to alter. Most people don't, but some just cannot stop calling me Pete*! Why do they do this? It's a mystery, but it's a persistent mystery, one which I'm sure any Pony Pals™ with commonly shortened name forms can confirm. Any Barbaras out there?

Of course it's not that annoying, and I've found that The People Who Will Always Shorten Your Name are such a small minority that it's not worth getting worked up about. The People Who Stand on the Left on the Escalator, for instance, are a much larger, way more irritating group.

So anyway? That lady in McDermott's office? She's crazy, sure, but she's right.

On a side note of BONUS! PSP trivia, it was my aversion to "Pete" which led to this conversation with a coworker in the early 90s:

Fletcher: So anyway, Pete, blah blah blah...
Me: Um, Fletcher? No offense, but I really dislike "Pete."
Fletcher: Oh, right, you already told me that.
Me: You just can't help yourself, can you?
Fletcher: I can't explain it.
Me: Well, I can't explain my dislike of "Pete" either. It just makes me cringe.
Fletcher: How about "Peteykins"?
Me: Oddly, that doesn't bother me at all.
Fletcher: OK, so "Peteykins" it is.

And ever since, off and on, and especially on the web, I've been known by a certain number of people as "Peteykins." And it's all because I can't stand "Pete." The end.

*I'm looking at you, Andrew. I never call you Andy.


Matty Boy said...

The origin of Peteykins. Another mystery solved.

I go by Matthew or Matt. I actually used to hate Matty, but I had some dear friends who called me "Matty Boy" long ago, and now it's my internet nickname, which means I hear very few people actually say it out loud, which is fine by me.

DuPree said...

As a Philip, I've always enjoyed the rather Anglo-European sound and provenance of the name.

To me, Phil sounds like the name of some fat American who bowls, chain smokes and dies of congestive heart failure at 52.

drew in sf said...

I have the opposite problem, sort of. I am not Andrew, never have been. Well, I am in official documents, and have had to correct bank tellers and other bureaucrats on that point any number of times. But that song and dance is far preferable to correcting a single Andy, which is apparently just a hair past cringey to me and which thankfully I haven't encountered in a couple decades.

The last person who persisted in calling me Andrew (based on information in official documents) after I corrected him the first couple times was my old boss. I learn later (via a 3rd party, not through any error-correction routine) that he was allergic to being called Kev versus his preferred Kevin, and this was probably his motivation in trying to make an Andrew out of me. I just don't see Kev being that common a problem, but I do totally see this guy going all Liz on a Kev-caller.

By the way, how was Fletcher not Fletch??

Anonymous said...

We have named this involuntary name shortening disorder,or"INSD".I work in the trades (electrician) and it is a quality that almost all tradesmen seem to have.I try to be accepting of it.-David

Anonymous said...

"She's crazy, sure, but she's right": this phrase is going to be very useful.

dguzman said...

I have a not-so-common name, Delia (rhymes with "tell ya"), which one would think might protect me from these name shorteners. However, I can't tell you how many people take it upon themselves to shorten it to "Del" which makes my skin crawl. I go all Liz on at least two people a week.

I don't even bother with the Dee-lias and Dahlias, however. They're beyond help.

dguzman said...

And what's up with the "I repeat UP your talking" on the toy box?

Madduane said...


I've done that to you, here in the comments at your blog.

And you told me you hated it. I just forgot, because it's been (mumble, mumble) years.

I shall never do so again.

So sorry.


Jenn said...

Yeah, Liz needs to chill, but it's pretty presumptuous to assume that you can call someone by a nickname.

I feel her pain. I'm a Jennifer/Jenn and I cannot stand "Jenny". In professional settings I'm always Jennifer so it's really irritating when people at work decide to nickname me.

Christopher said...

What gets me is when you introduce yourself as Christopher. Sign all your emails and correspondence Christopher. Other people in the same room are calling you Christopher. And yet, you can't seem at all to get that ONE PERSON, to catch a hint.

There's probably a life metaphor in that somewhere.

carmen sutra said...

First, thank you for castigating the escalator lefties. Oblivious much?

Second, I confess to being an abbreviator. My colleague Walter has never expressed any aversion to being shortened but always calls himself Walter. But I always blurt out "Walt" and then cringe afterward. I'm powerless to stop it.

It may be genetic though. My parents intended to call me Gregory but ended up calling me Greg.

Lau said...

Nicknames can become a necessity when you have "family names". We currently have three Alexanders, two of whom go by "Sandy", one Sandra who goes by "Sandie" or "Cece", but Cece doesn't solve the problem because my grandmother went by "Zizi". We also had two Theodores until the great circle of life solved that problem.

On the other hand, I'm constantly shocked by the lengths to which people will go to abbreviate my own name, Lauren, which one would antecedently take to be unnicknameable. Perhaps this is why I feel strongly about calling people whatever they most prefer, even if that is "The Last Grand Poobah".

Anonymous said...

My name is Valerie, and apparently it's way too long for most people to say. I particularly love being addressed as Val by kids half my age when I check in at the gym. It doesn't seem worth a 19-E-mail exchange, though.

The Boss of You said...

It's my experience that Jennifers and Davids are the most prickly on this. My name is Ljiljana, so I am just happy for people to wipe the stunned and confused look off their faces.

samael7 said...

The People Who Stand on the Left on the Escalator, for instance, are a much larger, way more irritating group.


Anonymous said...

just checking in to answer your rhetorical question. The one that stumps me isn't my friends with whom I happen to work calling me Barb at the office, but their bosses - in emails, no less - presuming the familiarity to do so. But I only go all Liz on people who call me Babs.

Genevieve said...

"It's my experience that Jennifers and Davids are the most prickly on this."

The Genevieves are far pricklier, but there are far fewer of us. I never, ever use Gen or Genny, yet people insist upon it. Also, inexplicably, I get called Jennifer a lot.

The People Who Stand on the Left on the Escalator are most definitely more irritating, though.

Anonymous said...

Just think how Sir Edward Ross felt about his name being shortened!

Anonymous said...

I went to a lot of trouble and expense to legally change my name from the icky one my mother gave me, to Lily. It's a pretty name, don't you think? Uh huh. Yet there are those who think it perfectly ok to call me "Lil." UGH. There is a world of difference in that "y", my friend. Everyone knows that "Lil" is the universal moniker of every saloon floozy - hard-bitten but with a heart of gold - in every B Western ever made.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the escalator comment. When I chaperon 8th grade class trip which consists of children who are only driven around in monstrous SUVs or tasteful Volvos or Priuses getting it into their heads to stay to the right on the Metro escalators is impossible. So for all you natives, I do try and I do apologize.

Seeing the kickball drunks in the Metro was fun when one of the kids comments "My dad lost his first wife because he drank.".

Roberta said...

Roberta: Ro, Berta, Bert, Bird, Birda, Bobbie and Robbie. Also RP, Robot and Rob.

I've lived in a small town most of my life and can't shed the shortenings assigned at different times, but everywhere else, I'm Roberta. As it should be.

Princess Sparkle Pony said...

Also, dare I add:

Roberta, Berta, bo-berta,
Banana-fana frankfurter

I totally improvised the "frankfurter" part.

Anyway, I love the feedback on this post.

The moral of the story is: DO YOU DO THAT? DON'T DO THAT!

But it's not like we're gonna go all 10 screamy emails about it like a crazy person.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I think I've called you Petey in every e-mail I've ever sent you.
It's just hard for me to say Peter, being a lesbian and all.

Princess Sparkle Pony said...

Petey doesn't bother me at all. Honestly, it's an "anything but Pete" kinda thing.

FranIAm said...

I have never addressed you - in comments, in emails and delightfully in person, as anything other than your royal sparkley-ness!

Well, perhaps I exaggerate, but no Pete has ever been uttered, even silently!

z7q2 said...

Seriously, stay to the right on the escalator? No one told me that! Is that DC only or a global thing? And it's to let people who want to walk up the escalator pass I guess? I know nothing of these matters.

A said...

In truth, on the escalator issue, I've heard that it's the complete opposite in Japan. Not being sure what side of the road they drive on there, I can't say whether that affects the decision-making, but, here in the Nation's Capital, even Metro's neologism campaign acknowledged this phenomenon, with the word "escalefter," defined to mean someone who stands to the left.

Not to keep this minor thread going, but, seriously, what about the people who do walk on the left, but seemingly lose their gusto in the last 1/4 mile and stand or stop at the top, making it impossible to continue speedily to your destination? Also abhorrent.

On names, I'm about the only person in my family with a name you can't abbreviate...and yet I search for ways to avoid my niece using it as a form of address, since a slightly slow cousin has always called my father Uncle ____ and it's always creeped me out. Neither interested in inheriting that mantle, nor indulging the associations for my niece that would come of it.

carmen sutra said...

In Japan they drive on the left. I think "walk like you drive" should be a worldwide rule, not just for escalators but for sidewalks, airport concourses, everywhere.

Princess Sparkle Pony said...

Oh, z7, really?

Matty Boy said...

Keith Olbermann closed his show with a dramatic re-enactment in drag (not him) of "Don't call me Liz!". Rachel Maddow opened her show with the John Ensign paying his mistress details, including the money for the son and her substantial raises at "official" jobs once she showed the good senator her toy collection.

If I continue to read PSP, and I think it's obvious I will, I hardly need cable news.

Toriko said...

As an American living in Australia, I can confirm that its a "where you drive" kind of thing. When I first got here I was continually in the way of people coming towards me on the sidewalk, until I realized that I have to stay to the left. Same with escalators.

-Rebecca, not Becky, or Becca, or Becs

Anonymous said...

Must chime in on the left-standing matter. DON'T DO IT. I am often in a hurry, I hate missing a train by 15 seconds when it's a 7.5 minute wait for the next one, and you and your granny cart full of gummi bears or whatever you have in there need to take the elevator.

Also, I've noticed in the years I've been on the west coast that no one here seems to have proper sidewalk etiquette either. Stay right, let people pass, easy peasy.

Walking backward, four abreast, stopping short, not looking ahead long enough to notice that I'm the one, once again, who's going to have to dodge your oblivious ass - all quite unacceptable. If someone's tailgating me on foot I step aside and let them pass. Please consider doing the same.

This is a Liz issue for me.

Unkakunk said...

Being a Keith I've never had anyone try and shorten my name. I often get Kevin, to which my response is, "you got three out of five right".

I've found a full size umbrella is very helpful with the escalefters. Start with an accidental poke in the shoe, then work you way up :)

Earl Cootie said...

I never thought Richard was that exotic but am continuously surprised by people who call me Rich (which I abhor) or Rick (which makes me think they're speaking to someone else). In the mid-eighties, a group of friends started calling me Dick, and I found that I liked it - quite a lot! So fitting.

Karen Zipdrive said...

My middle name is Elizabeth, not Liz, Betty, Lillibet, Liza, Lizzy, Bette, none of those.
But I'll be damned if I'd go haywire via e-mail like Elizabitch did if Elizabeth was my first name.
I once asked my brother and all my guy friends to call me Bambi. I am so not a Bambi, so it was fun to watch their faces trying not to guffaw when I made my request.
Calling me Bambi would be like calling Petey "Knute" or "Thor."

Princess Sparkle Pony said...

Aw, c'mon, Karen. "Peter" does mean "rock," after all.

And my middle name is "Douglas," which means "black water."

So my name, translated into English, is Rock Blackwater.

Pretty butch if you ask me.