“Dippy eggs,” said I. My uncle was cooking breakfast over an open campfire. He asked me what kind of eggs I wanted. I told him I wanted dippy eggs. Now, I suppose what I really meant was eggs sunny-side up, but how was a little kid supposed know? I just wanted to be able to dip my bread in the yolk. After that incident, he and the rest of my relatives on that side of the family, with twinkles in their eyes, all called me “Dippy Eggs.”
I suppose being called by names other than what is written on a birth certificate isn’t all that unusual. My middle name is John after my maternal grandfather, John Heber Price. Mom’s family always called me “John Keith” using both names but in reverse order. To them, John took precedence over Keith. Besides, I’ve never found anybody else in the family named Keith but there are lots of Johns.
When I went to Chihuahua and enrolled in high school, one of the teachers there, Keith Bowman, went by the nickname “Kiko.” It was really easy, then, for my friends to call me by the same nickname and I became “Kiko” also. I have been known by that name ever since by all those who know me from Mexico. I have even been called Grandpa Kiko by some of my grandchildren.
When I went to work in the Mexican schools, I found that both students and teachers alike had difficulty pronouncing and spelling McClellan. In order to make it easier for all of us, my name was shortened to “Senor Mac” or “Profesor Mac.” The name continued to stick when I went to work along the Texas-Mexico border. I became known simply as “Mr. Mac.” That has continued in the local schools as I substitute teach in Blanco and Johnson City.
Over the years I have, as have most people, been called by many different names. As an administrator I was once even called “Casper” by a group of my teachers. “Why Casper?” I asked. “Casper as in Casper the Friendly Ghost,” came the reply. “We don’t see much of you but when we do, you’re friendly.” As long as no disrespect is meant, I have not let such monikers cause me any heartburn.
My Dad’s name is Jasper. When he was growing up most of his peers and even the adults referred to him as “Jap.” That was fine until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. All of a sudden “Jap” was no longer acceptable. After the outbreak of WWII, Dad was called simply, “Mac.” Dad said that Jasper was the name given to desperados and donkeys. Once while visiting the San Diego Zoo by tour bus, the driver stopped at the camel habitat and hollered at the dozing animal, “Jasper! Jasper the Knot Head! Get up!” “See what I mean,” Dad said plaintively.
Shakespeare famously said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. However, there are some who may become offended when referred to by some other name or whose name is used disparagingly. In Exodus we read, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exo. 20:7)
Ecclesiastes says, “A good name is better than precious ointment…” (Eccle. 7:1) Our Creator is referred to by many acceptable names, some of which, in some societies, adherents consider to be so sacred that they will not speak them.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:” said Isaiah, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” To Moses Jehovah said, “Behold I am God: Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.” (Moses 7:35)
Spencer W. Kimball was being wheeled to the operating room by an orderly who accidentally smashed his fingers on the elevator door. He swore vehemently as he shook his hand. Although sedated, Elder Kimball said imploringly, “Oh, please, don’t speak the name of my friend that way!”
Calling me Dippy Eggs is one thing. But taking the name of the Savior, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, in vain is an entirely different matter and is cause for serious reflection and repentance.
“Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips…” (D&C 63:60-61)