A Man of Many Names
There is something about my name that affords itself very easily to nicknames. Maybe it’s the fact that it is chock full on short common nouns, or that it already has man in it, a common element of many nicknames. It all started in seventh grade… back then my older brother was going through a brief phase where his friends were calling him Dickie, which left me with the unfortunate younger brother derivative Little Dickie. Since then, I’ve been Bo, Bubbles, Bobo, B-man and even Mandick (taking the middle part of BowMANDICKson). Whenever I go somewhere new, I tend to accumulate a few more nicknames. Here are a few of my favorites from my name at King’s, of course in addition to my Arabic name, Rami:
Bomaly is the Arabic word for pomelo, which is some sort of large citrus fruit that I don’t think I have ever seen (though you may recognize it from this somewhat well known picture of cat with a pomelo rind on its head). The guards at the gate of the school are somewhat notorious for messing up some of the ex-pats names (though certainly no worse than how badly some ex-pats massacre Jordanian names). I guess they heard Bowman and tried to make it into something that they recognized, so Bowman became Bomaly. This has stuck with a few of the Jordanian faculty here, as they found this story pretty amusing. I’m a fan of this one, though I need to get my hands on a bomaly to see what all the fuss is about.
As a bit of an Arabic nickname in and of itself, one student decided to give me some good Arabic sounds for my name, so he added a “kha” in the middle, which sounds like the hard throat clearing k/h end of loch in Scottish. He uses this name almost exclusively for me. It has a nice ring to it.
On a recent trip that I chaperoned to my favorite pirated DVD spot in Amman, Hamoudeh, my insane buddy who works there named Thaer was causing his usual ruckus, trying to peddle random crappy shows, proposing marriage to people, pretending to make deals even though everyone gets the same deal etc. He was trying to get my attention from a bit of a distance but still doesn’t know my name (I guess weekly trips and hundreds of movie purchases aren’t enough) so the students told me he was shouting for Mahmoud, a pretty random typical Arab name. I’m not sure why he picked that or why he thought that I would have an Arab name, but now a small group of senior girls call me Mr. Mahmoud.
And then many of the rest of the senior girls just call me Bowman. If you’re 17 and too sassy for your own good, there’s no way you are addressing the 23 old dude in a lab coat and a bow tie with “mister”. Last year, I had only 7 female students out of 35, so I didn’t get much exposure to the population of female high schoolers. This year my classes are about 50-50, so I teach around 30 young women, and I am actually having a very different year. I still haven’t decided which are stranger, high school boys or high school girls, but my experience with the newspaper this term has been tipping the scales toward the girls. This term, I have something like 15 senior girls working for the newspaper, and then like 3 or 4 others. They play this game during meetings called “Let’s see how many times we can get
Mr. Bowman to blush.” They are very good at this. During the most recent one, I was working with someone else when I head one of the girls say very loudly “Would he rather hold your hand, or hold your ass?” They were making a Cosmo type quiz in which you answer questions about your boyfriend and add up points to get some sort of result. There were just so many things wrong with the situation that I had no clue what to do but turn completely red. Senior Girls – 1, Mr. Bowman – 0.