“She’ll get you for this!” my sister replied to a comment my brother posted on my Facebook page.
“Go tootsie go” he wrote in response to my celebration of the First 100 (and one!) followers on this blog.
Now, I’m bilingual- proficient speaker of Trini Creole, my mother tongue and prolific writer in the Queen’s English, which I learned at school. So, my immediate reaction to this use of my home name on social media- in the cyber earshot of my hundred and one followers!- was “whapp’n boy?” This being the much preferred equivalent to “what’s the matter with you, Terrence?”
Obviously, he had not gotten the memo banning all my siblings from ever speaking that name, in public or private address. He, having lived abroad for over two decades, may not have heard that Granger’s daughter told him, one day- in my presence- that she wanted to “tootsie” -which in her version of the dialect meant “poop” “sh..” or whatever other name we have for the thing we flush. Or, the process of excreting it. And that I have since stopped responding to that name.
He, also having missed my dating season, would not have known that everyone else at home having bitten their tongues so many times trying not say Tootsie in the presence of a suitor, all eventually resorted to using my given name, Ruth.
I excused him, therefore, for his comment, based on those facts. But he, of all my siblings, should never think of using my nickname- aloud! In public! On an international forum! You see, he, too, has a home name. So, a simple “Thanks, Wendy!” would have been a great way to get back at him.
However, the Biblical “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you” came to mind. And I wrote, instead,”You really want to go there, boy?” What I really wanted to do was hit ‘im two cuff an ah kick an roll up meh eye fuh ‘im. But, I would have to wait until he to comes home for that.
Today, though, I decided that I should not be so sensitive about this name. Like “Wendy”, it was given for a reason. I, the first girl child of my parents, was born after six boys. However, I was prematurely born and weighted four and a half pounds. An old wives’ tale, then, informed my mother that “eight month baby doh live”. But, Nurse Tootsie having met her crying on the ward, one day, strongly refuted this folly saying, “Look, yuh see dis chile yuh have here? Dis is a strong, little wretch yuh hear?”
I have since mostly lived up to Wretch and remained strong- and little, despite stuffed booties and hats, gathered, A-line and pleated skirts. But Tootsie, I never cherished. Although, like my predecessor I became a nurse, I have refused to ever deliver a child, much less predict what type of wretch it would become.
So, to see myself bantered openly by the boy called Wendy! Well, I really should thank him for carrying this name (though not officially) for all these years. Given to him, the fourth-born son, because our mother was really hoping for a girl, this would have been my name instead of Ruth. And, I don’t think I would have liked that. So, thank you Wendy for taking that cup from me.
But, hey, “What’s in a name?” Shakespeare sagely asked. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!” A Ruth called Tootsie; a Terrence called Wendy, what difference does it make? I remain the undisputed firstborn of the girls, number seven of the Whiskie clan- and, I guess you see where I’m going with this!
Pep talk aside,- and because the English lexicon cannot adequately express my sentiments- doh worry, yuh cut-arse book!