Is that your real name?

3 mins read

By Lee Scott

A new friend of mine recently e-mailed me and asked if “Lee” was my real name. The question does not come up very often here in the south since the name Lee is very popular. But her question was valid, because Lee is actually not my real name. It was a nickname given to me by my parents when I was a baby. My real name is Leslie. A name that only telephone marketers seem to know. In my family, many of us had nicknames because there were so many relatives with the same name. My brother David was named after our father David and our grandfather David. So he was given the nickname Sandy to help keep all the Davids straight. My father’s nickname was Buddy, named after the family dog that had died. Needless to say he used David outside of his immediate family.

Then there is former President Carter whose real name is James, but even at 91 years old is still called Jimmy, his childhood nickname. And a female friend named Elizabeth was nicknamed Nimmie, rather than one of the more typical nicknames like Beth or Libby. And heaven help you if you are stuck with a name from one of your older siblings. I know a woman whose real name is Susan but her older sister Joan called her Tu-Tu and it stuck. Now at 70 years old, she still goes by Tu-tu.

Since moving here, I have met women named Dolly, Sugar Belle, Baby and Sissy. Then there is Biddy and Coco, Ce-Ce and Weedy. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is a nickname and what is not. When I reached out to The Island News editor to ask her if Molly was her real name she was surprised by my question. “No,” she said. “It’s Martha.” Who knew?

Something else that I noticed is if someone is called Billy, you would assume that their real name is William, but sometimes, here in the south, their real name is actually Billy. It made me question our Mayor’s real name. Is his name Billy or William? Everything I read says Billy Keyserling. So I called him. He was kind enough to call me back and answer my question. “It’s William, but everyone knows me as Billy.” “No problem, Mr. Mayor, I understand. It’s Leslie, but everyone knows me as Lee.”

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