The earliest nickname I was given was “Touchdown” because my first and second initials are “TD”. This was used infrequently so it never stuck. During my school years I didn’t really have a nickname other than the occasional “Runt” reference (I graduated high school at 5’1” tall whereas my brothers were 6’+) or “Einstein” (end product of an intellectual discussion in a video arcade, much to my delight).
In college I wound up with “Chonga” – a natural progression from “Chimi” after I insisted that “Timmy” was the kid who always fell down the well in “Lassie” and hence my stern refusal to go by that name (NOTE: In the early 2000s I would modify this restriction to allow for the use of “Tim-mah!” as I had a lot of friends who enjoyed South Park). The name appealed to my linguistic interests as it felt like such a guttural, almost bestial name such as you might give to a literary Tarzan clone, thereby making it the equivalent of calling the tallest kid in school “Tiny.”
I got online in the early ‘90s, but I didn’t want to use “Chonga” as it would be visible to my peers and the faculty. I remember that I spent part of a morning and my entire lunch at Tonn’s Restaurant brainstorming numerous options. I was serious about this – I had a lot of considerations as the name would invariably define me to some degree on a collegiate level.
Some of the criteria I compiled in my head:
1. I wanted something that would set me up as having a sense of humor.
2. I had a fascination with Q from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, but there was a low end character limit.
3. I also wanted a literary allusion to establish my English major cred.
Somewhere in the middle of scarfing down Spicy Chicken while paging through the compilation of Shakespeare’s plays which I had lugged with me, I turned to Romeo and Juliet and there it was: Mercutio. I had found something that met all three criteria (I pronounce the second syllable in the same manner as “queue”) and it was thematically appropriate in that I enjoy a good verbal sparring and often described myself as a “tragic comic.” A year later I would curse my lack of foresight when I signed up for my account on the Krypton server and was forced to use Mercutio@krypton.msu.edu instead of KalEl@krypton.msu.edu.
After grad school, I began work as a web site designer and I needed a new nickname for designer cred. I had become fascinated with the world pair of “flair/flare” and how when you vocalized it the meaning was similar in that both words symbolized flashy and dramatic, something I aspired for my designs to be. I began using it as a standard handle on Internet forums which I contributed to and when playing online games with my friends.
The problem with “Flair” was the advent of Office Space brought a lot of visibility to the word and getting it as a user name on most systems became nigh impossible. I started throwing in “Mc” in front of it but Grey’s Anatomy started a “Mc” craze so by necessity I had to find an alternative and opted for Hellenification (aka, getting my Greek on).