By Bill Nutty
Going through life with an unusual name has some challenges. When it’s also a name that is actually pretty funny, it starts early and never stops. Sure, we Nuttys have heard it all many times but it’s still fresh for this new person, so here we go again.
There are various reactions, of course. Most of the time it’s a smile but sometimes there’s sympathy and a head shake or an inquiry about the name origin. There’s almost never no reaction. How many people can say that?
I can still remember the day my daughter came home from school, early in her kindergarten year, and asked, “Daddy, when you were a kid, did people make fun of our name?” My first thought was: And so it begins. Kids can be at their creative best when it comes to rhyming a name or making a play on the name sound.
However, when you start with a name like Nutty the possibilities are endless. I explained to her that it is kind of a funny name and suggested that she just have fun with it because the alternative is to be angry your whole life. Thankfully, she’s not angry.
In school, there was the Last Name, First Name from teachers every year on the first day. There would be a brief hesitation followed by the reading of Nutty, William. If they got it right, there was the usual laughter but some just couldn’t bring themselves to say it. There would be a long pause before they would pronounce it as Nooty or assume one T must be an L, so it became Nulty or Nutly. No sir or ma’am, it’s Nutty. I actually felt sorry for some of them as they struggled with it.
I can’t tell you how many times I went to pick up a pizza only to find out they had assumed it was a fake order. Who has to use a phony name to get a pizza? That finally ended around age 30. Still, there have been any number of non-reservations or non-orders simply because they couldn’t believe I was really Nutty. Did you see what I did there?
When you have a name like ours, you have to be careful in naming your children. I don’t mean just resisting the temptation to give them a first name that will cause them to hate you for life. I mean the unintentional name faux pas. Robert Ulysses or Isabel Marie would not do (think initials). As it is, I go by Bill and my wife is Pat. There you go. Here’s a true Nutty story: My father’s sister, maiden name Nutty, married a man whose last name was Looney. Gluttons for punishment.
Naturally, I decided to major in psychology in college. Apparently I wanted to open up a whole new world of potential last name issues for myself. Fortunately for everyone, I never did hang out my shingle. However, I did end up as the manager of a government office and my name went at the bottom of every letter from our office. This was, of course, fodder for every disgruntled customer. By that time though I’d pretty much heard them all.
I still get the hesitation from clerks or customer service reps. You can see the wheels turning, the attempt to resist a smile or laughter and the how do I handle this conundrum. I usually just tell them before they speak that yes, it is Nutty and that it’s a name you have to live up to.
Nutty is apparently from Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are Nuttys in England and in Australia as well as the U.S. I actually found the ship’s manifest from the UK to Australia. I don’t believe our relative was an officer or crew member, if you know what I mean. I also checked some websites but there’s no Nutty family crest to be found. I’ll leave it to you to decide what that would look like.
Bill Nutty, of the City of Tonawanda, has heard all the jokes.