Blind, buttered, and bred: Stories of parents and children
My father’s name is Masaru.
“Dad” …no, that doesn’t work.
“Daddy” …no better, probably even worse
“Pops” …not right, utterly terrible in fact
“Father” …public use only
“Marsy” …maybe ten years ago, but even then I didn’t use it
“Hey MaSaRu!!” …no, never
“Machuu” …that’s it. Back home at last.
That’s what came out when I was a kid. It stuck and it still fits. I’ve been calling my parents by nicknames for as long as I can remember, and I’m sure that both my mother and father would be uncomfortable with one of the standard monikers. So, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not going to be any “Dad”s or “Mom”s between us.
On the other hand, what to call them outside of the house, that’s the problem. Nicknames can be so embarrassing. So, when I talk to friends about Machuu, it’s always like “Well, you know, my father…”. (Geez, I hope none of my friends see what I’m saying here.) At the same time, calling him Father or Dad to his face is just too much. That would be troubling, whereas “Machuu” is so comfortable. I just know he feels the same way.
He used to say to me, “Don’t be ordinary. You are you. Go your own way!” That’s the way he brought me up. The nicknames are part of that. He may be my father, but there’s no way I’m calling him by that name. Just too embarrassing. But then they say that the humiliation of exposure is the night soil of art, and that’s certainly true.
If someday I ever have any kids, I hope they’ll find me a name. Something so absurd it’s cute. That’d be perfect. Then they too can see what it’s like when they come face to face with their own embarrassment at the local schoolyard. (laughing) But there’s nothing wrong with that.
Come to think of it, there’s one other person who shouldn’t see what I’m saying here. Machuu! I mean, …it’s embarrassing.
(translation © victor woronov 2007)