Z: I’m sad.
She: Are we out of beer? I can go to the store. Don’t worry, honey. Don’t cry.
Z: No, it’s not that. Anyway, we still have Scope. It’s that I just found out that kids don’t make fun of each other’s names anymore.
She: Oh. You poor thing.
Z: That was my one marketable skill. Parents from around the country would come to me to ask if I could make fun of the name they were considering bestowing on Junior, to make sure other kids wouldn’t be too cruel.
She: I don’t remember any income from this.
Z: It’s how I gave back. They would ask me, “Frank?” and I’d say, “Frank & Beans” or “Frankly, my dear.” They’d query with, “Sherman,” and I’d say, “Please don’t squeeze him” or “Sherman tank.” They’d ask, “Richard?” and I’d say, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?”
She: And this makes you sad? The whole baby name consultant business is drying up. Now the professionals charge only a $35 flat fee. Could it be that kids are too mature to tease each other about their names these days?
Z: I don’t think it’s a maturity thing.
She: Seems unlikely.
Z: I think it’s yet another sign that kids are being raised in a smothering, overprotective bubble. If you can’t even make fun of other kids for their names, what kind of a playground environment is that?
She: I don’t think that’s it. I think it has to do with the proliferation of unusual names. Koss — who doesn’t have the most straightforward name himself — has already been friends with a Niamh, an Anoushevan and a Jahmikhaili. I don’t think he’s ever met a Tom, Dick or Harry.
Z: Heh heh. Tom, Dick and Harry. Makes me giggle just thinking about it.
She: This from the man who once considered “Manroot” and “Roadkill” as viable options for our unborn child.
Z: But not Niamh, Anoushevan or Jahmikhaili.
She: Not only are they tough to pronounce — let alone make fun of — but there are so many unique names out there that kids don’t even notice something different.
Z: I, on the other hand, was Big Zak Attack.
She: I was Big Bird. I hated that so much. La La and Lezzy were fine.
Z: I had college friends who grew up together named Tucker and Chuck Puckette.
She: I’m guessing they didn’t have very subtle nicknames.
Z: No, but they owned it. They even went to the trouble of making a perfectly clean limerick using both of their names.
Z: And it made them stronger. They took the abuse, turned it around and made it something beautiful.
She: Yeah. Right.
Z: Now it turns out the only people who care about whether their kids are going to get teased on the playground are the parents.
She: I know. It’s still the first thing a lot of people worry about when picking a name. What does it rhyme with? How will it be used to torture the poor kid?
Z: And then all of the kids on the playground don’t even bother to make fun of little Bupkis Butts. All that prenatal worrying wasted. What is the world coming to?
She: Yes, dear.
— Share your nicknames with She and Z by e-mailing email@example.com.