Things I have been called (and how I feel about them).

I have been told I have a great name. A superhero name. Alliterative.

As I get older, I think more and more that my name was one of the best choices my parents made on my behalf.

Some people like to call me by my name, and some people prefer to call me other things. I have some thoughts on a lot of them.

Matthew
This is my full given name. It’s what I like to be called, so when people ask if I have a preference, I say, “Call me Matthew.” Most people call me Matthew.

Matt
It used to be I went by Matt, and then I began introducing myself as Matthew though I had no preference whether people called me Matthew or Matt.

One morning in DC, a neighbor asked which I preferred and so I answered I had no preference. Still, she insisted I come down on one side or the other. I’ve preferred Matthew since.

Old friends still call me Matt because they’ve always called me Matt. New friends sometimes prefer to call me Matt too, and that’s okay.

I mostly don’t feel like someone whose name begins and ends in a hard syllable. Rather I’d think I’ve cultivated a measure of civility to end my name in a long vowel, its echo not an arpeggio of clicks but the multi-tracked hum of a long vowel held.

Mr. Marco
When I was younger, some people called me this because I was either precocious or pretentious in their view.

Recently, it seems to be in vogue among those who find my bearing professorial.

Service workers also address me as this but I’m quick to let them know they can address me by my first name. Still, they tend to persist in calling me Mr. Marco.

Big guy
A surprisingly high number of people in my life have called me big guy, even when I wasn’t all that fat or tall. Mostly it seemed like a replacement for “hey you” with a derisive comment about my body thrown in for good measure. I don’t like being called “big guy.”

Uncle Chunk
I was a TA for a photojournalism class when I was a senior in high school and the mostly younger students took to calling me this – the first part presumably for my mentor-like status, the second part for my size.

I’ve been called a lot of fat-shaming names in my life, but this is the only one that became my official (and unwanted) mode of address. I don’t care for this name.

M and M
Really? Really. And no.

Dude/bro/bruh
Among the three, “dude.” Yes, this is a real preference. Largely for the same reason I have issues with the distinction between “hood” and “nabe” as abbreviations of “neighborhood,” and also for my feelings about sibling relationships.

I think part of the reason I maintain my professorial bearing is so people aren’t tempted to address me with any of these terms.

Kuya/Tito
I’m not very close with my younger relatives in the Philippines so I’m not addressed by either of these titles very often. Even when I am in touch, it’s rare that I’m addressed by younger cousins as kuya, which would probably be my title had I never immigrated. I like them though, even if they are usually paired with “Matt.”

Pare
Between dude/bro/bruh and pare, pare wins. If a panhandler in the States asked for money and addressed me as pare, I’d throw some change his way.

Mateo/Matteo/Mattias
I’m generally okay with any direct translation of my first name into another language.

Matty/MattMarc/MM
These are a few nicknames still employed by just one person I know. All these assignations seemed to be organic and affectionate. If I called any one of these people they’d enthusiastically greet me with their very own salutation. I’d be surprised if anyone other than their originators addressed me with them, but I’m good with them.

Mawy
Old Filipino nickname. Still in use by my parents and relatives.

When we first immigrated and I was eager to shed my otherness among my young American peers, I asked my parents to stop using this. Then I got older and I realized how much of my culture I willed out of myself out of this impulse to conform and assimilate. And this Filipino nickname was among the casualties I could still reclaim.

I get a little nostalgic when I receive correspondence addressed to Mawy.

Marco
I never played Marco Polo but I know that exists as a game because I am subject to cries from it pretty regularly. I only know the rules of the game from Wikipedia and some people still think it’s funny to affect the intonation of Marco associated with that game when addressing me. I don’t.

Alternately, some people have called me Marco because for some reason they thought I deserved a better name than Matthew. Which I’ve taken to interpret as “we think your inconspicuous given name is unsuitable for you therefore we’re going to address you by your more exotic-sounding last name that is also a given name in many countries.” And ew, no.

Don’t ever call me Marco.

Somewhat related: a pretty good article on the weird science of naming new products. As an occasional insider to the process, I find it deeply frustrating mostly because of the social interactions that take place in arguments of taste. However, if you’re an outsider, it’s worth reading to see how difficult a good name can be to conjure.