the short story project


Nice to Meet You

My real name is James.  Since I was a baby I was mostly called Jimmy.  The home videos I viewed when I grew up had my sister, aunts, uncles, mom and dad all saying Jimmy.  If you sit and think about it, it is a little bit weird.  The traditional form of James somehow has changed to Jimmy.  Jimmy is the Dick to Richard and the Bob to Robert.  Jimmy is the Billy to William and the Hank to Henry.  How did that shorthand begin?  A simple Google search may answer my question, but I am not going to look it up.  Today I choose to remain ignorant and I have decided the traditional names were given strange nicknames for the simple sake of amusing me.  I have heard that when families immigrated to the United States of America officials allowing them into the country would shorten the name to make it easier.  Let’s just pretend that Jimmy, Henry, Billy, and the like, started either of the two ways stated above (but it was probably just to hold my interest from time to time).  The nickname Jimmy stuck with me for most of my adolescence.  It is very versatile with it being only two syllables.  I remember filling my name into lyrics as often as possible when there was a catchy song on the radio.  For example, I would squeeze in a “Jimmy” whenever a “baby” would be sung on the radio.  The one that sticks out to me is the smash debut single from Britney Spears.  It did not take much time at all for my “creativity” to kick in when that song took the country by storm.  I remember seeing the video on MTV.  “…Baby One More Time” was catchy.  Her voice was a little whiny and the sexuality in the video was a nice perk for my 13-year-old self.  Only one thing could make this song sexier.  And that was adding “Jimmy” wherever there is a “Baby” during the song.  Now my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek about the sexiness increasing, but my friends can vouge for me when I slipped “Jimmy” into any lyrics I could.  Pinnacle “sneak-Jimmy-into-song-lyrics” occurred years after Ms. Spears exploded onto the pop music scene, however.  My favorite lyric substitute comes from a Canadian pop artist.  I am confident to say that this song is still the catchiest tune I know of.  I am my happiest when this tune bounces around my brain.  Since day one I have been obsessed with “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.  This song hit me hard.  I challenge you to think of a more universally loved pop song.  This is a song that was unavoidable.  It came out during the birth of the phrase “going viral”.  And it certainly went viral.  I would spend hours (yes, hours) watching people dance to this song, watching people parody this song, and even watching people discuss the “controversial” video in reviews.  Now, knowing what you know about me and inserting my name into the song, this is a layup.  My name can be added all over this sing.  There are so many “baby’s” and “maybe’s” I consider this an anthem written for me and me alone.  I can’t believe that the world loves me this much.  Out of the 1.2 billion views it currently has, I promise you that I am responsible for at least 450 of those.  Thank you, Carly Rae!   Call me Jimmy?

As I look back at who calls me what, I know exactly when Jimmy jumped to Jim.  I grew up.  After all, I wasn’t going to be known as Jimmy all my life.  That’s childish.  People who met me prior to my sophomore year of college knew me as Jimmy.  I think it is interesting that I put my foot down then.  Apparently, I was a grown ass man that has seen it all.  I must have felt like an adult and knew what it was to see some shit.  It’s amusing to think that I actively decided to start introducing myself as Jim.  My “growing up” has not even started at that moment. 

Jimmy went through a rather significant depression his freshman year of college.  He wasn’t a partier or anything.  He was not prepared for the adjustment into living alone and being responsible for himself.  Jimmy viewed high school as a place where he would learn all of the appropriate social skills needed to exist in the world.  In high school, Jimmy was in the middle of the class academically, and Jimmy only applied to one college for the meteorology program and the fact that Northern Illinois University had a thriving football team.  Jimmy rarely went to his classes his first semester of college.  His GPA and hairstyle reflected this.  He earned two F’s, a D, and a C his first semester then promptly cut his hair into a mohawk.  Rather than go to class he slept into the afternoon and did not know his purpose.  Only years later would he realize that this was his second bout with significant depression.  He realized that he had to figure it out over the holiday break, and he did with encouragement from his friends and family.  His second semester went much better, but Jimmy must have become Jim that summer.  When he shook hands with new people his sophomore year, he would look them in the eyes and say, “Nice to meet you, I’m Jim Nagle.”  Though this may have been a symbol of how he was an adult, Jim was just a baby.  There was a lot more growing up to do.  There was so much more to come.  Friendships, loss, successes, failures, love, and heartbreak.  Jimmy knew nothing, and Jim seemed to somehow know even less.

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