Why Nicknames are the Secret Ingredient

College football; got to love it! Of course, at the University of Chicago, my undergraduate stomped, we are Division III nowadays, although, a long time ago, we was touted Monsters of the Midway! Heck, we won the national title in football… in 1905! Good memories…

Another morsel of college that I remember was nicknamed. You, too, trumpeted one or two in your travels, I bet? For me, I had numerous monikers including “Surfin’ Herb” (I was a DJ for WHPK-FM at the U of C,) “Herbmeister” and, my favorite nickname, “Mr. Do It.” And, as always, there is a story; this time focusing on why nicknames are significant for prosperity, the secret ingredient of contentment…

Here Comes the Windy City

Growing up in South Florida for my teenage years, I was very responsible but very scared talking about college. I had to ease in to the university experience. I mean, whoa! Having the right fit for the next four years in college was mind-blowing. Fortunately, over time, I adjusted my strategies, so to speak, and became more comfortable and at ease on what I was trying to do. Eventually, I set my course the University of Chicago, the Windy City.

This was quite different from the tropical paradise of South Florida. I had never been to the Midwest, therefore the tall buildings, lots and lots of people hustling and bustling, the frigid temperatures, heck, even the central time zone through me for a loop. But after all this, I knew the educational system of the U of C was superb, thus I was going to calm myself down and stick to it by thick or thin.

“Gentleman of Henderson”

Still, on the quarter system, it was almost October when I arrived at the campus in Hyde Park, south of the city. Fortunately, a good friend was going to be my roommate for that year which was very practical. We selected a 10-floor building complex called Pierce Tower. (Unfortunately, several years ago, Pierce Tower was knock down completely; what a shame!)

Because the U of C was very logical, we also divided into sub-dormitories which were two floors each. My floor was deemed Henderson House or, when I was here, the “Gentleman of Henderson,” not only because of our civil nature but also because it was the only “guys” dormitory in the entire campus.

Therefore, when I arrived for orientation at Henderson, there were 16 freshmen and transfers waiting. We were all nervous, anxious and wanted to have our best game due to the fact that pride was on the table. In addition, these people were incredible, tantalizing and unbelievably smart. So for me, even though I was very excited, I was a little bit worried that I was going to be like the bottom of the barrel in my educational endeavors. But, life goes on…

Boatload of John’s

We all sat together in our “Lounge,” sort of our hang out at our sub-dorm, and greeted the resident assistant. Probably a few years older, he was very thin but very pleasant, however, he immediately had a problem. It seems that, without anyone’s knowledge, looking at a list of names that we had a boatload of John’s. Wow! Really? So, looking at everyone, the RA decided to, surprise, surprise, have nicknames for everyone.

With the brainpower churning, we went round, clockwise, and everyone had to have a nickname that will stick. In particular:

  • One person was from Montana, so, surprisingly, his nickname was going to be “Montana” (remember, minds at work!)
  • Another person love Ireland, England, and Scotland, so instead of calling him John, he became “Simon”

Finally, it was my turn. Of course, my name was “Herb,” so I said, “Why don’t you call me, ‘Herb’?” (Logical, right.) But a nickname was required though and they already decided one that was splendid. I was very forward-looking and quick my feet, proactive and results oriented, hence they pronounced to call me, ta-da, “Mr. Do It.”

“Mr. Do It”

Remarkably, the name fitted me quite nicely, and I still use that nickname even now. I feel comfortable. Decisive. Resolute, but not too arrogant. Resourceful, but not boastful. It’s like a recipe that is just perfect every time.

And so, the origin on “Mr. Do It” appeared. Henceforth, I asked you, “What is your nickname? What significance does it play both in the past and present?” I am eager to hear from you.

Oh, and, “Go Maroons!”


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