When I was in high school, Mr. Brescasin, our Phys Ed teacher, used to call me “Ruk.” And so for the two years I took Phys Ed, I had a catchy nickname, at least out on the football field. It was a small oasis of pure glory in a lifetime of “woa! how do you spell that” and “that’s not an Island name, is it?” I think at least some of my brothers benefitted from the same nickname as they moved up through the years and followed me to high school.

I have always had a facsination with people who have the audacity to take their nickname — or, even more brazen, a name of their own creation — and use it as their public handle.

Prince, Madonna, Cher, and Sting are perhaps the most famous examples of this behaviour. One has to wonder how exactly they get away with it. I can imagine the reaction from friends and family if I woke up Wednesday morning and announced that heretofore I am to be referred to as “Tarmac” or “Wheely.”

Our most famous Canadian “known only by nickname” celebrity is Roy Forbes, aka Bim. According to Roy’s website:

For the longest time Roy was called Bim, a childhood nickname that became a password for extraordinary songs, at a time when some amazing songwriters were at the top of their game. This, coupled with his unique and intense guitar playing and a high and soulful voice — part Roy Orbison, part Billie Holiday and all heart, made for a winning combination.

For a time in the mid-1980s I was a big “Roy Forbes aka Bim” (this was how he was known during “the transition away from Bim” phase) fan. I saw him play with Connie Kaldor at the Bathurst Street Theatre in Toronto one night and they blew the roof off the place.

Roy is still around and playing. To get a taste, visit his website and click on the link to Old Man Worry right on the front page.

This is tarmac, signing out.

Disclaimer: for a time, when my brother Steve was in university, I took to assigning his roommates arbitrary nicknames, the most famous of which were Morty and Hooper. Unfortunately, I could never keep track of who was Morty and who was Hooper, something that plagues me to this day, as Steve insists on using their nicknames when talking to me. So I am, in a way, Part of The Problem.