I like to think of them as pet names. It isn’t something that everyone has or deserves. Pet names are saved for those neighbors and co-workers who have at one time, or more likely many times, sunk to the level of absolute idiocy, far past the “give-em-a-break” line of demarcation, on one or more of the characteristic of personality scales by which levels of humanity are rated.
Most pet names evolve over time. They change based on the latest stupidity witnessed. Frankly, I try really hard to NOT notice what my neighbors are doing. But even with great effort, the dumb just seeps through the fence and all the “ignoring them” resolutions. It usually happens after a loud bang. Even though I know, it’s just another neighbor proving that the missing-link is alive and well, I can’t help myself from looking. I’m compelled to go see what made that noise. I’m caught in the Gladys Kravitz syndrome again, looking through the window and seeing things I wish I hadn’t seen.
I stood stunned, as I watched a near 50 year old, 5’6” wanna-be-scumbag-biker with his new Harley, in his new jacket, with his new bandana, yelling at his wife to help him pick up the motorcycle that just fell over in the drive-way.
I stood aghast, at the fist-fight on my front lawn, which was actually, just friends of my neighbor. That was our introduction… I’ve seen this one, misjudge the location of the edge of his deck, the intension was to through the contents of the B-B-Q on to the ground below, but he missed and the red hot coals rolled all over on the deck at his feet. Currently, we’re watching his cooler collection grow. Apparently, every time he goes on a picnic, fishing or camping trip of sorts, he forgets t bring his cooler and buys another one to add to the stack behind his house, where he can’t see them, but I can. There are four and we’re just a few weeks into summer. How many will be there by September? One wonders… the anticipation is intense, isn’t it?
The transformation of a pet name brings with it the history we as neighbors share. At the beginning, before they reveal their truly stupid self, I use their names. If a neighbor is destined for a pet name, it doesn’t take very long before… Doug becomes Duh-oug, Duh-oug the Goof, Goofy Doug, Doofy. Sad but true, each revision is a reflection of one or more episodes of usually drunken (we hope) stupidity witnessed by neighbors who a) couldn’t care less and b) are trying to avoid knowing anything else about these people.
The only trouble with using pet names exclusively when referring to neighbors is that it preempts ever calling them by their given names again… once you name them, it’s just better not to talk to them anymore. Talk about them, yes. To them, No. Because they’ll never understand what you mean when you forget yourself for a moment and say, “See ya later, Doofy.”