My husband calls me Cookie and I call him Boo. These nicknames are not very imaginative, I agree. But every time we call each other this way I get a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart.

Anyone who knows us would have a hard time believing that we have such ‘cute’ nicknames for each other. We used to be so anti-cute when it came to our relationship that even our close friends didn’t know we were dating for the longest time.

I am a very straightforward person. I can be awkward around people who wear their emotions on the sleeve and hugs are a big no-no for me.

My husband is awkward in a very different way. He is robotic and finds it hard to read human emotions. Our friend A once theorized that the only way he’d reproduce was by undergoing mitosis after eating too much Fried Rice.

I can’t pin-point when we gave each other these nicknames. But I remember how it happened and it’s quite dumb.

When we were dating, we used to text each other a lot before we went to sleep. I was often sad during the nights because it was when the worries and anxieties I had accumulated throughout the day would come crashing down on me. He would try his best to make me laugh through his texts. He’d joke around or send me cat videos. He’d also send me random emojis.

But one day he sent me the ghost emoji (👻) and that got a big laugh out of me. The emoji itself is funny but there was an added context for us which was that I often called him a ghost because of his pale skin. After that, he acted as though he had found the key to my happiness. He would send it every time I was even mildly unhappy. ‘Boo 👻’ became the way he signed off every night. That’s how I started calling him Boo.

He started calling me Cookie for an even stupider reason. He has an unexplained hangup over my name. He can never call me Prashanthini. My name is long and he has never attempted to shorten it either. So for a long time, he just called me ‘Hey’ or ‘Oi’. Both of us felt that it was ridiculous and we just couldn’t go on like that. When I came up with a nickname for him, even when I had no hangups calling him R, he started to feel stressed about the name situation. He was in dire need of a nickname for me or else he might have to start calling me by my actual name.

He was inspired by the fact that I derived his nickname from an emoji. So he tried his luck with different emojis. Animal emojis were out of the question so he moved on to food groups. That’s when he stumbled across the chocolate chip cookie emoji: 🍪

After a deep discussion, we decided that that would be how he’d call me moving forward.

Since we were keeping our relationship a secret back then, using these nicknames in public was out of the question. Even when no one was around, we felt too shy and uncomfortable to call each other ‘Cookie’ and ‘Boo’ in person. Somehow, during those days, we were very open and intimate over text and we could not be the same way when we spoke in person. So we continued calling each other ‘R’ and ‘Hey’. We carried on this tradition even after we confirmed our relationship and got married.

But things changed when we started living in the same house as a married couple. Our intimacy grew and we used our nicknames freely in the house.

Later we started making creative modifications. When he is looking for me around the house, he would literally be cooing “Cookie coo, where are you?” Whenever he eats too much, I call him “Boos” (in the plural) to indicate that he has become bigger. We went to Dubai once and the whole time I called him DuBoo. Whenever I am sick, he would call me Sickoo or Sookie.

All this happened strictly within the confines of our house. Even after marrying me, he couldn’t call me by my real name outside. His awkwardness was hilarious to me and I would make fun of it often.

But one day, we were standing near my workstation surrounded by my team. We were having an argument about something or the other when he said, “That’s not how it works, Cookie.”

I was stunned. There was no doubt that my team had heard it. They had never seen the gooey, relationship-y side of me. I became embarrassed and expected him to feel the same way. But he continued making his point as if he did not even notice that he was calling me by my nickname in front of so many people. I didn’t say anything to him after that but I felt like we had taken a giant leap forward in our relationship.

We had always been uncomfortable with showing affection in public and I had always attributed it to him. But on that day I started to wonder that maybe it was my reaction that was making him hesitate.

I am still not completely open but nowadays we freely call each other ‘Cookie’ and ‘Boo’ no matter where we are or how serious the situation is. I don’t exactly know what I expected but not one person among our friends, colleagues, and relatives has ever commented on it or made fun of it. The normalcy of it pleases me to no end.

One thought on “Nicknames

  1. I never realised that there could be so much emotions behind nicknames, particularly awkwardness. Makes sense, when culturally spouses in india are shunned from projecting intimacy or even happiness when seen in public. They are just baby rearing machines in the society. It is hard to get rid of the behavioural impacts that stem from it.

    I am generally not a shy person and even PDA doesn’t jar me. My husband and I, we call each other by nickname anywhere anytime. In fact, he has around 10 different nicknames for me, which still keep mutating and evolving. I agree, nick names do make relationships closer.

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