“You’re as young as you feel,” they say. Although I’m pushing 60 in human years, I tend to think of myself kinda like a P.G. Wodehouse character: “In the late afternoon of life (he) retained, together with a juvenile waistline, the bright enthusiasm and fresh, unspoiled outlook of a slightly inebriated undergraduate.”1
When our daughter and son-in-law let us know that they were expecting, we were faced with a difficult task: choosing the nicknames our grandchild would call us. Of all the titles I’ve taken on – Dad, professor, musician, cinephile, goofball, pinball player – the word “grandpa” really didn’t seem to fit the energetic, youthful image I’ve formed for myself. “Granddad” wasn’t much better. “Poppa” seemed like something out of Pinocchio or Pippi Longstocking.
I needed a nickname that would retain the energy and youthful rebellion that I (foolishly) tend to cultivate. So, after some Deep Thought, I turned to a modern-day poet for some wisdom: Bruce Springsteen.
I initially thought “Big Man” might be a good title, but then worried that it might be mistaken for a commentary on my weight. So I settled on “The Boss.” Although I realized it was a tad grandiose, I could easily picture the wee one lisping, “Oh, Boss, could I have some more ice cream?”
That was all a bit more than a year ago, long before the Little Guy arrived. Now, shortly after his first birthday, he’s starting to understand the importance of words, of the power of calling things by their names. He’s developing his vocabulary, and undoubtedly saw my bride melt the first time he called her “Nonna.”
I now realize “The Boss” may not have been the greatest choice. Sure, it evokes images of leather jackets and rock stars, but it’s kinda hard for a 13-month-old to wrap his mouth around. So despite many rehearsals and parental prompting, the Little Guy affectionately calls me… “Bobo.”
So much for rock star coolness. Bring on the clown jokes. “Bobo” it is.
1 Wodehouse, P.G. Service with a Smile, 1961 Simon & Shuster.