Like most people, I’ve had my fair share of nicknames. And like a lot of people, I got nicknames from my parents. Growing up I always thought that my father would give me a name like they do in the movies. A name like ‘champ’. Or even ‘squirt’.
But is that what I got? No. I got ‘babe’.
Seriously, what kind of nickname is that for your child? It might be an affectionate name you’d give to your husband or wife and maybe even a baby. But my problem was that I was fifteen years old, six foot four in size and my dad was calling me babe. So you can see the problem. Getting him to stop didn’t work either. I’d try but I think dads are just notorious to deal with.
“Dad?” I’d ask.
“Yes babe?” he’d reply.
“Can you please stop calling me babe?! I hate it.”
“That’s for me to decide. You’re my babe. Your brother’s my babe, so is your sister. If I want to call you that, I will.”
I didn’t reply in the best way, and called him names other than dad (but I won’t repeat here!). Suffice to say, I was grounded for a week.
I was hoping one day something would happen that would make it stop. That fateful day happened on a family holiday to Italy. While I was enjoying the sandy beach, swimming in the sea and generally having fun, I still had to put up with my dad calling me and my siblings ‘babe’. For a moment I thought perhaps he was going senile and he just didn’t remember our names. But after canon-balling into the swimming pool and my dad telling me off (he even shouted at me by my first, middle and last name - the ultimate way for a parent to tell off their child), I knew that there was nothing in this theory.
Dinner time in the hotel, I joined my family at the table. I was dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt. Everyone goes through a stage of wearing dark clothes and this was mine. In the end this worked out to my advantage. The meal was a buffet so I grabbed my plate and proceeded to fit as much as I could onto it. After all, what’s the point of going up multiple times when you can cram so much onto one plate? “I’ll be right behind you,” said my dad just before I left the table.
I got my food and sat back down and started gorging. Soon my dad sheepishly arrived at the table, taking his seat.
“You ok, Dad?” I asked.
“Yep. Fine,” he replied with his head down. “Look, let’s just eat up and go.”
“Why?” I asked.
He took a big sigh, looked around at me and the rest of the family like so and then proceeded to explain.
“I followed you to the buffet and saw you standing near the chicken pasta. So I put my arm around you and said “What have you got there, babe?”” “No you didn’t,” I replied. “I know, it was another bloke." my Dad said.
Some tall Italian fella dressed in black. I put my arm around him and called him babe before he turned to look me in the eye.”
There was a long pause around the table before we all started howling with laughter
“And then what happened?” I asked.
“I didn’t’ wait around to find out.”
As soon as he finished speaking, my Italian doppelganger walked past, glaring at my dad. He must have felt eyes upon him because he looked at me and said:
“Let’s eat up and go. Shall we son?”