My children have no idea what my real name is.
It’s not just that they think my official name is Mommy. It’s that they so rarely, if ever, hear their father utter my real name. That’s because, for better or worse, Siig calls me Pookie. Or Pook. Or Pooks.
And yes, at times, it’s slightly embarrassing.
He started calling me Pookie before we were even married. It began innocently enough, more as a joke than a serious term of endearment. It can all be traced back to one night when we were watching “Caddyshack,” that classic movie that most guys seem to be able to quote at the drop of a hat. We became infatuated with the line, “OK, Pookie, do the honors,” that Judge Smails utters to his wife before christening his boat The Flying Wasp with a bottle of champagne (which ends up breaking the sailboat.)
We kept saying that line over and over again to each other. We found it hilarious. It was the answer to everything. Who was going to unload the groceries? “OK, Pookie, you do the honors.” Whose turn was it to have control of the clicker? “OK, Pookie…” I think you get it by now.
Eventually it stuck. Well, I should say I got stuck with it. I am now Pookie. A name that conjures up a tennis-skirt-wearing, baby-blue-sweater-over-the-shoulders-upper-class WASP. Which is most definitely not me.
So now, if you ask my children what their mother’s name is, they will tell you, plain and simple, it’s Pookie. Duh! I’m not sure if they’ve even heard the name “Melissa” spoken in our house. On the rare occasion that Siig uses my real name, it scares me. I think I’m in trouble. It reminds me of when I was young and my mom would yell, “Melissa! Get in here!” Just like back then, now whenever I hear my name called my heart skips a beat and I think, “Oh crap, what have I done now?” I tell Siig not to throw around “Melissa” lightly. It could give me a heart attack.
Siig has no qualms with calling me Pookie in public. We’ll be out with friends and during a casual conversation he’ll say something like, “Oh yeah, Pookie did that once.”
And the friends will be like, “Who the hell is Pookie?”
That’d be me, the one cringing in the corner. The probably least-Pookie looking girl in the room.
After seven years, I am getting used to it. Sort of. It made me feel better when Siig told me recently that one of his good friends calls his wife “Fluffy.” Maybe we should hang out – Fluffy and Pookie.
I think we’d most definitely have to take up tennis.