Jason. Jay. Jase. Junior. Skippy Junior. Billy Ray. Sled Dog. Asshole. I have a lot of names. It seems every chapter of my life has a different name associated with it.
My name is Jason. Obviously. So the easy nicknames are Jay or Jase. People are lazy, so they shorten it. Because two syllables is one too many, I guess. Either way, they do not bother me, and I still answer to them.
My dad has always called me Junior, which my grandfather (his dad) did, as well. So when I got to high school, at which my dad was a teacher, my peers picked up on it and started calling me Skippy Junior. You guessed it, my dad’s name is Skip. They did it to tease me, but he had been calling me Junior for so long that it really did not bother me.
When I was a Senior in high school, I started working at a Boy Scout summer camp, running the C.O.P.E. Course. Essentially, a rappelling tower, low ropes and high ropes courses. My first summer there, for whatever reason, my area director started calling me Billy Ray. It is from the movie Trading Places, with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, where two of the main characters have the below dialog:
“Looking good, Billy Ray?”
“Feeling good, Louis.”
This became our code for checking on the status of whatever task we were doing, without letting the scouts know we were up to something. If something was not quite right, the response would be something other than “Feeling Good” and assistance would be on its way. Other staff picked up on it, and to this day, there are “camp friends” that call me Billy Ray.
While I was a prospect (something similar to being a pledge for a fraternity) for my motorcycle club, I was invited to a Christmas party in Cleveland. I started my drive about 0600, just as the snowflakes started to fall. And fall they did. This was the winter of multiple blizzards, apparently. What should have been a 5- or 6-hour drive turned into a 12-hour drive. I pulled into the party just as it was starting, to find my president outside trying to call me. He stood next to my car for a few minutes, until I decided to get out. When I slammed the door, about 8” of slush fell from the doors, bumpers, and wheels, revealing my car. My president did not recognize my car until that point.
Later that winter, I was “patched in” as a full member. Along with my center patch, I was given my club name, aptly chosen as Sled Dog. To this day, every time it snows, I am handed the keys. Gotta love a Michigan childhood.
For the most part, all of my nicknames have been “given” or, dare I say, earned. So with that mindset, I have decided to not assume any sort of trail name until I have been given one by my fellow hikers. I am in no hurry to discover another one of my hidden personalities.
I would love to hear your nicknames, and the stories behind them! If you care to share, post a comment below or use the Contact Me page up top, along with any comments, advice, or topic suggestions. If I get a good amount of them, I will post them here for everyone to enjoy.
Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”