What’s in a name?

I‘ve never really liked using or receiving nicknames. In my time I’ve had plenty of variations on my name: Marko, Maco Polo, Marky, Marcus, Marcus Aurelius, Markus Farkus. Markus is probably the best of the bunch, the lesser of many evils. Marky is the absolute worst. Only my closest friends can use that without receiving vitriol in return. One girlfriend called me Sparkles (short for Markle Sparkles). I didn’t mind that, but it’s not really appropriate for anyone else to use.

I don’t like being called by my surname either. The guys I hung out with in high school were ethnically varied – Maltese, Croatian, Italian, Lebanese, Irish, Sri Lankan, Israeli – and we all just used each others’ first names. Since leaving school, people have sometimes tried using my surname as a nickname. It’s never stuck.

At one point when I was in high school, I discovered my surname graffiti-ed onto certain sites around the school – I found ‘Riboldi sucks’ carved into the desks in my classrooms and ‘Riboldi’s a wanker’ written in the stalls in the toilets, for instance. It went on for months before I discovered it was being done by two guys who I considered at the time to be my best friends.

One day, just before Maths, me and one of the guys started shoving each around. He took a wild swing at me which clipped my glasses-frame, almost knocking them off my head. I took my glasses off and handed them to someone else. Then I punched the guy in the face. He hit the ground like the piece of shit he was. Fight over. The rest of our class called me Mohammad (Ali) for a couple of weeks. The torment ended. It’s been my only fight.

In terms of non-named-based nicknames, at high school I got the usual ones for people with glasses – four-eyes, specs, etc – and I also got ‘rubberman’ for a while, because of my posture and the way I walk. I also have a weird double-jointed thing in my elbows and thumbs.

At work recently, they’ve started calling me Bicky. Not because I like biscuits (though I do). The logic goes like this – Riboldi rhymes with Garibaldi – there are Garibaldi Biscuits. Biscuits – Bicky. That’s me. It’s probably the most intelligent nickname I’ve ever had, so I’ll bear it.

—– The art work for this post is by a talented artists, and friend, Wez Champion. He’s letting me use some of his artwork on the blog —–

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