It started a year or two ago, the Nicknaming of the Inner Circle.
I received a message from a friend, Amanda, who relayed the tale of a dream she'd had the night before, in which I was some kind of superheroine, fighting some crazy criminal villain while wearing a witchy purple dress and kickass black boots. She was my sidekick.
"We need names," I said.
As I thought about it all day, I kept going back to something she'd been calling me for days: sassy.
"Sassafras," I decided.
But Sass needed a last name. Something Irish. Something poignant.
One of the songs I constantly go back to—even though one friend (Pickle) will ridicule me ad infinitum for this—is "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes. It's tied to my childhood and my later youth and even my adulthood. I have a Bucket List goal to get different, incredibly varied musicians to record an album that's nothing but covers of that song. Adam Taylor and Wesley Cook have both agreed, in principle. I'd love to get Les Claypool, Greg Dulli, and maybe In This Moment to record it, too. I'd even happily donate all the proceeds to charity, though I have no idea what charity would want money from a song about two people trying to cheat on their spouses. (Again, I argue, it's not about adultery; it's about serendipity!)
The bar where the two meet to plan their escape is O'Malley's. Perfect.
So now Sassafras O'Malley needed a sidekick.
I wracked my brain but could think of nothing. She became Mandypants for lack of a better option. And it stuck for a long while. Recently after posting about a surgical procedure in which she was effectively microwaving her lady parts, I deemed her Hot Pocket. And it suits her beautifully.
So Sassafras O'Malley and Mandypants (now Hot Pocket) were the first two of the nicknamed. That list has grown and grown and grown since this began. It seems silly, yes, but these nicknames are like our true names. These are the second names, the names that are particular, peculiar, and more dignified, to help us keep our tails perpendicular.
Growler – who is sweet like a little kitten but will turn beastly in a moment if you cross her
Hammer – the Hammer of Honesty who can tell the truth like no one else
Moonshine – blue and bright and glowing, can always make you a little drunk with her beauty
Queen Frostine – the coolest chick you'll ever meet
Cookie – never a Tagalong and never a Thin Mint, but sweet and crunchy nonetheless
Lady Hammer – a strange female reflection of the truths of Hammer, totally unexpected
Glee – gregarious and ebullient, she knows the words to any and every song
Roadkill – who will step out in front of a moving car, admonishing you that they'll stop
Cupid37 – who dressed up as Cupid (and sometimes worse) in public and appears in chapter 37
Pickle – because he's always drunk, but also because he's both sweet and sour but not a baby gherkin
Irish Coffee/Not Boy – the Irish-descended guy I like to drink coffee with, who's not my boyfriend
Absolem – the questioning caterpillar to my Alice, who can unhinge me by asking me who I am
DH – Dear Husband, as assigned in the infertility forums 14 years ago, soon possibly DX or DXH or DB
Minizon - daughter of Hot Pocket, my Glamazon-in-training
There are a couple of others, but I don't know if they know the origins of their internal nicknames, so I'm opting to keep them in the vault. For now.
Sometimes we have learned of our super powers. Some are still a secret.
Sassafras O'Malley, who can utterly mesmerize you with her potty mouth, has a special disco ball ring that dazzles stupid people into submission, specifically to keep them from copulating when her muchness leaks into the water supply. It's a tool to lower the chances of stupid people breeding. (She also has sparkly boots.)
Growler has the ability to create snow angels anywhere, out of thin air. She can mesmerize animals instantly and cause them to do her bidding.
Hot Pocket has the Broccoli Bomb. When she unleashes it, it makes everyone around her snort broccoli up the back of their noses. Painfully funny.
The list is likely to go on and on as time progresses. I haven't named all of these people. In fact, maybe only half of them. Hammer has had a hand in the naming, as has Hot Pocket. But these names are so appropriate for each and every one of these friends. It's like they just whispered themselves to us in an inexplicable moment of truth. Mostly when we were sober.
They're my incomparable cast and crew.
And these are the names that will never belong to another (fragile) cat. They are ours and ours alone.
But somewhere, deep down, each of also has a third name, the one that no other human can ever discover. Our deep inscrutable singular names that only we know and only we call ourselves, respectively. I know mine, but I'm not sharing. Only one other person knows it, and that's only because he knew it before I did. That's Absolem. And I know he's not telling.