What’s In a Name?

via Daily Prompt: Priceless

This is one time I’m going to “self-disclose” a bit. I’ve written about this relationship of late, in The Secret Crush, among others.  Now, the prompt strikes a powerful nerve.

My nickname.

A boy and a girl, both in elementary school, are playmates.  The boy teases the girl – me – incessantly and, as part of that teasing gives her a nickname.  Little did this girl know – oh clueless me again, this boy’s IQ was beyond genius level.  That part is key because of the nickname he granted. He was cleverly disguising his emotions behind this nickname so it led one to believe one thing but in truth, it meant another.  At the age of eight, this is a pretty sophisticated thing for a kid to do.

I don’t know how it started or why it started.  But I do know my reaction – anger due to being hurt.  I mean, who gets called priceless?  For me, priceless meant worthless.  And, for a child who had already been harmed badly in her young life due to sexual abuse by others – bullies in another neighborhood; gang beaten by others in the apartment complex in which we lived, to finally find a friend who she could finally let her guard down to was a major accomplishment.  Then to hear this?  Ouch!  But what made it worse?

He kept calling me this name.  

My first name….ok, I should just come out and say it, is Penny.  So, the name comes out “Penny Priceless.”  Clever, on many levels, if you think about it.  And this boy was, what?  Eight years old?  So the girl – me – named after the lowest US currency, the 1 cent piece called the penny, who has been teased enough just for being named Penny,  now, I’m Penny Priceless?   Oh, this is horrible to me at that time.  I was devastated!   And he keeps mocking me over and over and over with this name!  I even went home and told my mother (my parents were divorced as were his) and he was expected to apologize

But the name-calling continued.

He knew it annoyed me but we were still friends – and I’d get mad every time he called me by that name.  Usually, he’d call me it when he was annoyed with me or to trigger a response “just because.”  Now “clueless” here (me), didn’t consider other possibilities.  Remember, this boy is Above Genius IQ.

My “buddy” Webster defines “priceless” as something on which the value cannot be estimated; beyond any price, invaluable, too valuable to be sold at any cost; highly treasured and valued above all OR to be absurdly funny and amusing.

If I were to ask this now-grown man, what he had in mind.  I can hear him, right now, laughing.  He’d be saying, “both.”

Yes, I was so clueless I couldn’t tell the forest from the trees.  I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  Place your favorite metaphors for “clueless” in here and it would fit. As I said in my previous piece I mentioned above, over time, I became fond of that nickname for one reason:  only he called me by that name.  Even in high school, he called me by that name.  No one else did.  No one else understood the now-emotional tie that was attached to that nickname or even our history together as children.  He was probably among the few I knew in high school since elementary school and followed through until the 12th grade – rare to do.  We had a powerful bond and history together, despite him moving away.

In case you want to know, my dear friend found me on Facebook.  Our friendship was rekindled.  I’ll bet you want to know if he still calls me by that nickname.

The answer is – yes.  My reaction?   I laugh.


2 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?”

    1. I spoke to the man who gave me this name and read this piece to him. He said, “You are priceless to me, of highest value to me and always will be. That is what I meant when I gave you that name.” It’s very touching and a precious gift.


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