I never had a nickname growing up, although sometimes I was called “Red” (former hair color, mysteriously fading and thinning now). A few men in town might occasionally call me “Nick,” which actually was my dad’s nickname.
In 1989 I was working on a corporate show in Hong Kong: the company’s big annual sales conference. I will not describe the media I was producing there, because no one under 40 will believe that such Jurassic technology was ever seriously in use. We had several thousand attendees for the event at the then brand-new Convention Center on the harbor. We had some local temps to cover the phones and the basic office work (in a day before cell phones and widespread email availability). I came in one day and was handed a phone message memo. It was for “Blak Nissan,” which apparently was as close as our administrative help could approximate the alien consonants in my name. That one stuck, and for the rest of my time at that firm, I was “blaknissan” to my coworkers. I used it as my alias when I got my AOL account in the early days of e-mail.