by Kristan Higgins
Aside from my dad and grandfather’s pet names for me, I never really had a nickname. My sister and brother both struggled to say my name as tots and came up adorable mispronunciations of my name—Kree-Kree and Din-Din. (They’ve mastered Kristan by now, not to worry. Most of the time, anyway.)
Otherwise, I didn’t really have one. In fifth grade, Mr. Sage, who was the best teacher, started calling me by my last name. It stuck. When I’m in a bind, I think to myself, “Okay, Higgins, let’s figure this out,” or perhaps more aptly, “Why did we think this was a good idea again, Higgins?” My writer friends call me Higgins, too. I quite like it, though it does make me sound like I’m a servant at Downton Abbey.
Jessica Dunn, the heroine of Anything for You, has a nickname, too. Jessica Does, as in Jessica does anyone. She’s the high school tramp, and unapologetic about it. She has her reasons, you see, and they’re maybe not what you’d think.
But Jessica Does haunts her, especially in one critical scene with Connor O’Rourke, our gruff and wonderful hero. It’s the type of name (and reputation) that’s hard to leave behind in a small town. No one is harder on Jessica than she herself is, but if acting a little bit like Jessica Does is going to help her brother Davey, who has special needs, she’ll do it.
Connor, too, has a nickname or three, bestowed on him by his twin sister, Colleen. She calls him Troll-Boy from time to time, as well as brother mine, and he calls her Dog-Face.
My kids have long and bizarre nicknames for each other, butchering their beautiful Irish names. McIrish is obviously called McIrish. In turn, he calls me The Bunny—I like it, because it seems like more of a title. Plain old Bunny…nah. But The Bunny—that has panache.
Some of my favorite nicknames are The Boss, for Bruce Springsteen; Superbrat for tennis player John McEnroe, who was famous for his on-court tantrums; Captain Fantastic for Elton John. Sweetness was the great football player Walter Peyton, who was apparently an incredibly nice person. The Sandman is, of course, Mariano Rivera, the famous Yankees closer. When he came on the field, it was lights out, time to go to sleep.
To the best of my knowledge, no one has a cruel nickname for me, unless you count Evil Mother, and since that’s only used when I’m telling the kids to clean their bathroom, I wear it proudly.
I’d love to hear your nickname, or one of your favorites!