In my neighborhood as a kid, there was a kid whose father was a real pistol. He was of the no-nonsense World War II generation and he had trouble seeing the foolishness that the second half of the century brought us, particularly among us teenagers. He made quips about popular culture and people in it some of which I carry to this day.
For example, he called Michael Jackson, "Michael Jackass" and thought he was real cute about it. This man watched Michael Jackson grow from a small boy into what he considered an eventual freak. He loathed almost anyone who was famous but had real some pet-hates that he wouldn't leave alone. Michael Jackson was one of them.
I was at the age where when he said, Jackass instead of Jackson, I took it and ran with it. Everyone became fair game: Phil Jackass, Samuel L. Jackass, Bo Jackass and even president Andrew Jackass.
It's awful of me to write this and I'm sure this term unfairly describes those mentioned above and the world population of Jacksons. I wouldn't say this to any of those I've listed above but I only include them here as examples. I never say it aloud but only mentally but it is a compulsion owing to my acquaintance of this particular schoolmate's father. Maybe writing this blog about it will rid me of the nasty habit.
The compulsion I had with repeating everyone's last name this way reminds me of another compulsion with substituting a word. I went to college in Baltimore in the 1980s and at the time the locally brewed rotgut beer was National Bohemian. This was in the days before micro-brews and artisan beers. National Bohemian and its sister brand, National Premium, were brewed and bottled en masse on the outskirts of the city.
We referred to it so frequently in my day that we shortened it from the Baltimorese, "National Bo" to our local, "Natty Bo."
Sometimes after an especially bad hangover, you'd call it Nasty Bo.
But the enduring name with me was Natty Bo. I became a habit and I began extending it to everything with National in its name. The pro-baseball's Natty League. Natty Aquarium. But then I got a job at the Smithsonian where almost every edifice is named the National Museum of . . . (Natty Museum of . . . see? I can't resist).