Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bird is the word

Over the course of our entire relationship (almost ten years now) Andy has never called me by my name. He only uses my name for introductions or when referring to me in a conversation with other people.

It sounds weird to say it, but I know of other couples that are the same way.

I don't usually call Andy by his name either. Mostly because he doesn't use mine and it feels strange to call him Andy when he isn't calling me Joanna.

Ten years hold a lot of nicknames. I like to change things up and over time I've called Andy so many things I don't remember. Andy likes to find one and stick with it. Our first nicknames for each other were Nerd in Shining Armour and Geeky Princess. Those didn't have staying power. Too long. Geeky Princess was quickly replaced by "woman" which I hated, but soon found out he applied that name to all the ladies in his life who were important to him including his mother and sister. Clearly I was important too, so I let the stupid nickname pass.

Now that we are married Andy calls me Wifey. I hated that one at first too. Mostly because of the book Wifey by Judy Blume. I had read it about a year before we were married and it was awful. I do not recommend it. But Andy is persistent. Like I said, he finds a name and sticks with it. No matter how much I protest. So for the last three years he's been calling me Wifey.

Two names stick out though and pretty much define our relationship. We're quirky. We bicker like siblings. We like to have fun with each other, and in general not take life too seriously. I'm high strung and he's laid back. We balance each other out.

About a year and a half after we started dating Andy started college. He got to know people and quickly found his group. A handful of the guys that he fell in with were from the UK. One of the things Andy enjoyed most about them was their dialect. Especially British slang. He ate it up and quickly started to use some of their words in his own conversation.

One of those words was "bird." Did you know that men in the UK often refer to their better half as their bird? Not their girl. Not their old lady. Their bird. "I've got to go see my bird tonight." "My bird has been nagging me lately."

Andy and another of  his friends, Chris, thought that was pretty much the best thing they'd ever heard. At the time Chris was dating my friend Jenn. The boys decided to start using bird in reference to Jenn and I. That soon evolved into just calling us bird and expecting us to answer to it. We both hated it.

At first the whole thing was funny. Then it got kind of annoying. Then we were both ready to tape their friggin' mouths shut. It also became clear that no amount of bitching and moaning from us would discourage them. They were having a good time. Maybe if it weren't both of them together they would have given up, but no such luck.

So Jenn and I decided to fight fire with fire. We tried to pick nicknames that were equally insulting so they would get the point.

Did you know that it's hard to insult college boys? It is.

Jenn started calling Chris walrus. I don't think he loved it, but he persisted with bird and eventually that's just how they spoke to each other.

It took me a little longer to settle on a name for Andy. I tried calling him roster for a while, but that just didn't fit. Then I had an absolute stroke of genius.

Who remembers Doug? It's a cartoon that was on in the 90's. I loved it and watched it religiously.

Doug has a comic book alter ego called Quail Man. This is Quail Man:

He wears a belt on his head and underwear outside his shorts.

I thought for sure that naming Andy after such a goofy super hero would make him get the point and he'd drop the whole quail thing.

He didn't.

Eventually the whole thing got totally ridiculous. No one was budging and soon all our friends knew our names. For better or worse we were Bird, Bird, Walrus and Quail.

Jenn and Chris broke up. She moved on to her now husband who does not call her Bird.

Andy still called me Bird. I still called him Quail.

We called each other that right up until he picked the name Wifey.

Do you want to know why I stopped calling him Quail? Because I hated Wifey and wanted to find a name he would hate. Apparently I hadn't learned my lesson from the whole Bird/Quail debacle.

So I started calling him Husbandy. Get it? Husb-Andy?

About a month after we got married and he'd be using Wifey for a while I told him I wished he'd call me by my real name. I decided that since we were adults and married that we should act it and call each other Andy and Joanna.

He actually agreed.

So we started using each others real names.

An hour later we decided it was creepy and we didn't like it. We've used nicknames ever since.

Childish or not it's who we are as a couple. I'm his bird. He's my quail.

But if he starts calling me mommy after we have children we might have to go to therapy. 

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