BY MICHAEL “ACE” BAKER
It was a cruel nickname….. given with only the cruelest intentions. There was no irony, no sarcasm, nothing either original or clever about it. It was the simplest, laziest nickname that one could be given. We had basically taken his most glaring physical fault and labeled him with it. And the name was always said with contempt. We would almost spit the name out……”Big Nose”…..no face, no personality, no humanity…..just….
And so it goes with men at work who are slightly bored. Road Commandment #8- “Single out absent members for intense criticisms”. If you’ve got a funny walk, an obnoxious voice, a bump on your skull, a pimple, a cold sore, a rash, or even just a love of desserts; you’re probably going to get a nickname.
The more that you are liked, the kinder the nickname will be. Example- We had a Monitor Engineer who we all liked. The Monitor Engineer liked frosted crème desserts. So he became “Cakes”. We had a lighting guy that no one liked. He was a bit overweight and he enjoyed talking. So we called him “Chatty Big Tits”.
It’s a man thing…. it’s hard for women to understand. Women attack other women in different ways. It’s more of psychological war with them. They play games. Pretend like they are friends. They toy with their prey like a cat does.
Men are a little lower on the food chain. If it weren’t illegal, men would simply throw rocks at men that they don’t like. But we can’t do that. So we give nicknames.
But we do have our limits. We do have our moments of compassion. “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”. “Crew-nation”, all that stuff. I remember one tour:
Tanning the Guitar Tech had broken up with his girlfriend right before the tour started. He spent his last week at home moving his personal belongings into a storage facility. When he climbed aboard the tour bus, he was carrying about 25 pounds of sadness with him. We all really liked Tanning and we hated to see him like this. For weeks, we would take turns staying up with him and letting him talk about his troubles- his regrets, his pain. While the talking kept him from slicing his wrist open, we all realized that the only thing that was going to really help cure him was a night with one of the local girls….. not a prostitute (sleeping with a pro can be even more depressing than a broken heart)…..but a REAL girl……someone who was attracted to him, someone who found him interesting, someone that laughed at his jokes and most importantly, someone who would make sweet love to him and make him feel as special as we knew he was.
There was no success for the 1st month and a half. But Day Off in France looked like it might be the turning point. We (band and crew alike) were all gathered at the hotel lobby bar and the attractive female bartender had appeared to take quite an interest in Tanning. Trouble was, Tanning just wasn’t landing that “Knockout Punch”. His stories were falling flat, his jokes seemed forced. We all sensed that Tanning was losing this girl and we were all beginning to panic. The sassy bartender left to go serve a couple of macho-types at the end of the bar. United, the crew and the band leaned in to assess the situation. Everyone concurred that Tanning’s ship was taking on water. We needed a good plan quick!
That’s when Dru, the bass player, finally stepped in. “I can help you out”.
The table snapped at Dru’s offer. Dru was the “man”. He got girls. ALL the TIME, he got girls. In every city, in every country, rich, poor, skinny, heavy – the man got more ass than a toilet seat.
Dru turned to Tanning. “Go sit at the bar away from us. Make it a bit more private of a conversation.”
Ahhhhhh……we all nodded our agreement.
“When you feel the time is right, ask her what she is doing after work. If she gives you ANY sign that she is available to see you, look her straight in the eyes and tell her, “Je suis un gros canard.””
Tanning stared back like a soldier who had just been given his orders. He got up, walked over to the bar, and sure enough, his cute French bartender bounced back over to him. They were laughing, smiling…..Tanning’s confidence was growing…..and suddenly, he went for it!
“What are you doing after work?”, he asked.
“Nothing”, she sighed. “I’m kinda hungry. Do you want to come over and I’ll make you some food?”
WOW!- thought Tanning. Direct hit! Now to put this baby to bed. He looked her straight in the eyes.
“Je suis un gros canard,” he said in nearly perfect French.
“Pardon?”, she smiled.
Tanning repeated ; “I said, Je suis un gros canard.”
Or…..in English…….”I am a great big duck”.
Tanning never did get laid that summer. Nor, the summer after that. But the fellas and I still get a good laugh every time that we get together. Heck, to be honest, I’m laughing right now…..”a great big duck”…ha, ha, ha.….absolutely priceless.
Hey, what do you want from us?…… we’re guys.