"I listened to the conversations of the men, my head whipping back and forth as though I were watching four tennis matches at once. Reading between the lines I gathered that they all worked at Dickens, as bartenders and cooks and bouncers, and therefore Steve was The Boss. They revered Steve. When speaking of him they sounded less like employees than apostles. It wasn't always clear they were speaking about Steve, however, because he had a number of nicknames, including Chief and Rio and Feinblatt. Each of the men also went by a nickname Steve had bestowed, except Uncle Charlie, who had two- Chas and Goose. After ten minutes I was juggling so many nicknames that I felt as if there were a dozen men in the car instead of the four I counted. The men confused me further by rattling off a list of other nicknames, people who stopped into Dickens the night before, like Sooty and Sledge and Rifleman and Skeezix and Tank and Fuckembabe."
Reading Tender Bar the other day I came upon the above excerpt and it reminded me of college. When I first arrived at UConn in fall of '90 I applied for a workstudy job in the VA office on campus which was sort of a part of the Student Affairs Office. One of the guys that worked there and eventually took over the office was Joe. Like Steve in the above story he had a dizzying array of friends, coworkers and ex-Army Ranger buddies all with nicknames bestowed upon them for various reasons. Eventually everyone who worked in the office (including El Duderino) had a nickname. Joe also had friends like Preacher, Ferret, and Lurch; whose personal creed I will never forgot; "After two flushes, it's managements problem."
Later I also started working for Joe when he was an Asst. Hall Director and I was an RA. Another pile of nicknames followed, Small Change, Blaze, and Doolittle. (I was under the impression that this was her last name until it was revealed that it was a reference to her somewhat untamed hair).
Still later Joe went to law school in Vermont and we visited several times to meet future district attorneys and corporate lawyers with monikers such as Coolio, Dangerous D, and Pan the Man. I know I am forgetting many other names but it was to a point where I knew some of these people for five or six years before I learned their actual first name. I recall running into Lurch in Cancun in one of those random encounters far from home and trying to introduce him to someone and struggling to remember that his name was Tim. Good times.