Realism: Gustave Courbet to Jerry Springer

The Narrative Dress

Ridiculum Vitae

Maruch Santiz Gómez

Dinh Q. Le

Steven Brower

Karin Sander

Journalistic Criticism


Slow down


When she left

A love affair, part I

All things i couldnt say

The case of the young lovers

The nickname

The silence of Najmalabad

En Español

El kitsch y el cuerpo/2

La muerte de los Señores

La Giaconda y la guardia

Giovanni Tornatore

Martín Ramírez

La escatología de la pintura

The nickname

by Keith Miller

It would not be necessary to speak of names in this instance, for the use of names has been totally eradicated. She decided quite some time ago that she had no use for a name because one by one each name she had known and been known by had been wrenched from her in an almost torturous way. She remembers nicknames from her childhood. Each pigtailed friend would attach a new title to her, each reminding her of one happy accident that had occurred, that had involved both of them, that had brought them closer together. Then, most certainly, along would come the day when her friend would no longer call her by that name, would either call her by another name or would not call her at all. They might be suddenly absent, disappeared. One could never convince one's self what had happened to these people who had suddenly vanished, but it was certain that not only had they vanished, but also the name they had used for her, as well as the person that name implied.

Her parents had given her one name and she had felt that if nothing else in that name there lay a degree of security. That name was not a passing phase, a playground tag, loosely attached to her fragile soul. Her name from her parents was permanent, ringing with history and grandparents and ancestors. She could remember the age ridden mouth of her grandmother, teeth wrenched from it by the decadence of time, telling her of her aunts and grandparents.

Her grandmother told stories of her past and her relatives in the same way one might tell an ancient fable or bedtime story. Each figure became eternal and shared some of the oddities of Paul Bunyon and Rip Van Winkle. Her grandmother, though, also had a nickname for her. It was a sweet sounding word that seemed to imply a degree of impishness on her part and a dose of humor on her grandmothers. She almost never called her that when there were other people nearby, it was a secret between them, two women, one aging and toothless , the other toothless and innocent.

Then grandma died and no one but her knew about that name. It became a questionable fiction. She was sure that any jury in the land would find her a liar if she tried to prove its existence. She knew she would never be able to. And then she wondered about the proof of grandma.

When she got older she decided to marry and when she did she was then taken to be an adult, and everyone knew that adults did not use nicknames. Adults had names that were proper and legal. She adopted her husband's name, but adopted it like one might an unwanted child. She felt miserly and cruel for never loving or even liking her name, but she couldn't help it. To all around her she was content with her new name. She smiled happily when someone called her by it. She doubled her efforts to make it seem as if she felt she had been saved from the chains of her old name, the name she had gotten through a trick of fate, that her parents had dropped on her, without consulting her whatsoever. Secretly she knew that her new name was as accidental as her old name, and no more chosen by her, but she was unwilling to mention that to anyone, even herself. She knew that she would tell grandma were she to be around. But she wasn't. Actually, she somehow knew she would tell almost anyone that, as long as they called her by a nickname that she could remember how it had come about. If they could just remind her of that happy and accidental intimacy that happened on a jungle gym or in a classroom, in a closet or on an easy chair.