A month or two back, I introduced myself to a guy I see frequently at the gym – a big black dude in his early 50’s, who’s usually lifting about five times whatever I am. We had already reached the head-nod stage of recognition, but had never actually talked. And I’m very glad we finally did, as he turns out to be tremendously nice, and very funny.
He had recently been having should issues, and so a few weeks ago asked me for some mobilization and rehab exercises and advice. Which led a mutual friend to point out the irony of one of the biggest guys in the gym getting advice from a guy who looked like the gym’s accountant.
Somehow, that evolved into a line of Steve Urkell jokes. Which, in turn, led to me to saying that I preferred to be called Stefan (Steve’s suave French cousin, for those behind on their 90’s television). And, from there, the nickname stuck; he’s been calling me Stefan ever since.
A few days ago, however, he came over to confirm my real name. He had apparently seen me with Jess and my parents, and had wanted to say hello, but didn’t want to call me Stefan, given that they weren’t in on the joke.
And though I told him they wouldn’t have minded either way, apparently his caution stemmed from having once been burned in a similar situation. A friend had jokingly started calling him “Big Head,” and, in return, he had nicknamed the guy “Stupid Face.” So, inevitably, at one point he came across the friend, along with his friend’s children and elderly parents.
And, without even thinking, he waved hello and said, “what’s going on, Stupid Face?”
Apparently, not a big hit.