I absolutely love a good nickname. Guys love nicknames. Women…you need to get on board. My favorite nicknames are simple ones, and having been a sports fan my whole life, I have heard some great ones: Casey “Big Snack” Hampton, “Iron” Mike Tyson, Karl Malone “The Mailman”, Walter Peyton “Sweetness”, “Booger” McDaniels just to name a few off the top of my head
I read somewhere that a nickname (albeit a positive one) is a sign of endearment. It is actually a badge of honor. After giving it some thought, I believe this is absolutely true! My pets have always been given nicknames: Stink, Pork Lion, Muskrat Jones, Cognac, El Stupido the three foot torpedo. Even my kids have been cursed by my nicknames: my son is affectionately called “The Captain”
However, one of my favorites of all time came from my dad. From grades 8-11 I had a good friend named Scott. Scott, a very little guy, came from a tough background. His dad died when he was young. He ended up being raised by his mother, who was riddled with health problems and ~50 years older. Also living at her home was his two older brothers. Older by 20+ years and both severe alcoholics. One lived in the garage, the other was more or less a vagabond that bounced around from place to place. Or crashing on the couch
Scott was one grade higher than me. We met each other one summer during little league baseball. We had similar sense of humors and just clicked.
We lived about 2 miles from each other, but were separated by a busy road, so once I started driving in 1990 he and I were inseparable. If we weren’t out and about, we were at my home.
One day when I was getting ready to go pick him up to do something my dad said “Where are you and Rollo heading to tonight?” I recall where I was at in the living room when I heard him say it. “Rollo” that was great!
Rollo was a character from the 70s hit sitcom Sanford and Son. Fred Sanford’s (Redd Foxx) son Lamont (Demond Wilson) who in his 30s still lived at home, had a runaround buddy named Rollo Lawson (Nathaniel Taylor). Rollo was a shady character. Though he never really did anything wrong, you could tell he was a shady guy. Nothing too harmful (he liked taking Lamont to “skin flicks”), but you could tell he was not on the up-n-up. He would try to sell himself to Fred as a good guy – a grown up Boy Scout. But Fred knew better and would often call him a criminal. See the clips I’ve added below
So when my dad called Scott “Rollo” I died laughing. That evening I told Scott my dad referred to him as Rollo. He knew Sanford and Son as well and got a kick out of it. It was a perfect nickname. The nickname wasn’t meant to imply Scott was a shady character, it was a guy’s way of busting someone’s chops. We would enjoy it for a few years.
In the summer of 91 Scott went into the Army. It was that or probably end up like his brothers. We would keep in touch throughout basic training. Then he went to Korea and slowly our relationship faded.
It was rekindled in 1997 when he flew in unexpectedly from Alaska to be at his mom’s beside while her health faded. After a week she died. In 1998 I flew to Alaska to spend 10 days with him and his family.
In 1999 he moved to Fort Campbell and we visited a couple times, but the bond was weakening.
My wife and I married in 2003 (he was unable to attend). Then one Sunday evening during the summer of 2004 he called me to say that he had come home from a fishing trip (he was now divorced and living in Washington state with a girlfriend) to see his home completely empty. Long story short he asked for some money. I am not sure the exact amount, but I want to say he requested a thousand. I never felt good about the situation. Call it intuition, call it the Holy Spirit – but I didn’t have the warm-n-fuzzies. And I am a person who likes to give. After talking it over with my wife I sent him $300.
That was the last contact I ever had from him. He never called to acknowledge he had received the money, never answered emails I would later send.
Still to this day “Rollo” is the greatest nickname I have ever been associated with. It is going to be hard to top. As for me (Lamont), I hope Rollo he is doing well.