Mark had crazy nicknames for literally everyone he encountered in life. For some friends they were invented by Mark and they stuck. For others, they were adopted by Mark, monikers used so often and so exclusively that I didn’t even know some of their actual names for years after knowing them. I remember initially thinking how odd it was, but later rather endearing, how he would tell stories about friends or relatives from the moment that I met him and never acknowledge that they had actual given names. I cannot tell you how many stories would begin with the phrase, “Have I ever told you about my buddy… Hot Hands… Stanken…Dazzle…. Action….Teddywood… Dookiebird… Dover… Blackbuster?”
There were also the nicknames that he’d make up on the fly: Señor Preguntas. Joe Rock Head. Buzz Lastyear. Mater. Wreck it Ralph. These were names he simply thought were funny in the moment…terms of endearment, so to speak, because they were actually more of a ‘dis’ on someone for something they did or said. Nevertheless, it was indeed the ultimate compliment to be the recipient of a nickname from Mark. Back in his days as a middle school teacher, it was customary for his students to beg him for a nickname…the less flattering, the better. Insults they most certainly were not. A nickname from Mark earned you a permanent place in his heart, sealing your fate as a perpetual character in his repotoire of storytelling.
Finally, there were Mark’s nicknames for us: Bonita, Coopy Doo, Frucy, Cecers. These were given to each of us within days of first meeting, at once given with love and adoration, now signifying our everlasting imprint on his heart.