I’m moderately seriously thinking about nicking myself and going by “Dub” instead of “Will”… if not in person than in whatever print and online bylines I manage to generate.
Now before you go rolling your eyes (I know: too late) it’s not like I’m gonna call myself “Rock” or “Bear” or “Boss” or “The Edge” or “Dice” or “Two Times” or somesuch nonsense. Obviously short for “W,” Dub would just be one more informal link in the chain from William to Will to Dub. Plus it’s different and fresh with a pinch of hip: Dub Campbell. I like it. And in fact, it would actually work to alleviate a lot of uninvited liberties taken with my name. I could certainly stomach “Dubby” far better than the “Willy” that raises my hackles when spat from the mouths of those who don’t know or can’t comprehend how insulted I am by that.
In addition Dub would eliminate the frustration I experience by those who never fail to dismay me when I introduce myself or sign my emails as Will and they come back calling me Bill. How the hell does that happen? Is it a mild form or retardation? Denial? My name’s not Billiam, for corn’s sake! It’s William, with a “Wuh” not a “Buh” as in bastid, which is what I have to stop myself from calling those who label me Bill. And it’s soooooo much fun to correct those idjits with “If you don’t mind, I prefer Will to Bill.” Then I look like a retentive, controlling jerk. Thanks for that. Really.
Sure, there’s the school of thought that self-monikering will make you go blind and put hair on you palms and doesn’t really count because a nickname must be bestowed by another for it to be true.
And other than my ironic and ultimately despised baby nickname of Twig (I was almost two feet tall and nine pounds six ounces at birth) that’s only happened one glorious and shining time in my life when I played first base on team in a slow-pitch city softball league in the late ’80s. Called the Bounty Hunters, the team was captained by Rich, my then-first wife’s now third ex-husband (I was her second; he took over after we split), and whose roster included Mark of the dynamic KLOS duo of Mark & Brian. We had been battling for first place all season and we wound up tied for it and playing the team we were even with at a park in North Hollywood for the title in the final game of the season. Do or die.
And we were dying, at least offensively. Recreational high-arc softball is not often a showcase for defensive battles, but that’s how this one shaped up. For whatever reason our normally high-powered bats struggled all game to bring runs home, but the other team wasn’t faring much better and in the bottom of the final inning with the scores strangely in single digits we were down by one and things just weren’t looking too good. With two out and a runner on second base I stepped to the plate having swung lousy in my previous at-bats that night. It was up to me either to keep things alive or kill our championship dreams and finish
as losers in second place.
I can’t recall if it was the first pitch I swung at or the third or fourth or whatever. All I remember was the one I hit came a bit inside on me there where I waited for it on the right side of the plate and I turned on it but good smacking it solidly into right where it faded away from the fielder poorly positioned closer to center and toward the foul line dropping just fair inside and contining to roll beyond and away from its pursuer. By the time he picked it up and heaved it back in our runner on second had scored, tying the game and I was standing with both feet on second base, my chin high and my arms crossed over my chest like a conquering superhero. My teammates and our spectating wives and girlfriends cheered me on like mad.
It was in the middle of that auditory adulation that one of them â€” I don’t know who â€” yelled “Now that’s what I call clutch, Campbell!” Then there was a pause and it registered with someone else who yelled out “Clutch Campbell!” And then everyone started screaming “Clutch Campbell! Clutch Campbell! Clutch Campbell!” and I thought proudly to myself “Oh yeah, that’ll work.”
Now the pressure was on the next batter who rose to the occasion, smacking a single that moved me 60 feet closer to scoring the winning run. Then Mark came up and looped one that dropped to the outfield grass. With two outs I was off at the crack of the ball against the bat and had already come across the plate when it landed. Game over: we won. And dangit I had my spankin’ new nickname! And it wasn’t “Weasel” or “Choke” or “Smiley” or “Rinse”. It was “Clutch.” Fuckin’-A Clutch! The kind of nickname that a man wants and wants to keep around.
But it soooo didn’t stick. Instead it was a short-lived nom de guerre, so to speak. With the season over and the team disbanded and no one to call me by it other than my wife who usually marinated it heavily in sarcasm before those rare occasions she’d actually utter it, it lives only in my memory.
But what a memory.