Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The
I have been called many things in my life, not all of them repeatable in polite company, which I am seldom in anyway.
But the one I love to hear repeated is Poppie, which is what I am called by my 2-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.
My wife, Sue, who is called nothing but good things, especially by me, because without her I would be a four-letter word ("dead"), is known to Chloe as Nini.
I'm glad Sue and I have such wonderful grandparent names because we could have been called a lot worse.
I found this out recently when I saw that two fine family-oriented groups, BabyCenter (which provides advice on pregnancy and parenting) and the American Grandparents Association (which is what it sounds like), have each come out with a list of names that grandmothers and grandfathers are called these days, whether they like it or not.
At the top -- or, if you prefer, the bottom -- of the grandfather list is PeePaw. No offense to any guy whose grandchild calls him by that name, but I can't imagine Chloe saying to me, "PeePaw, I have to go pee-pee."
Then again, Poppie is perilously close to that post-Pampers potty predicament (and besides, it sort of rhymes), so maybe PeePaw isn't so bad after all.
Then there's Chief, which is considered a trendy name for grandfathers but sounds more like what Jimmy Olsen called Perry White in the 1950s "Superman" TV series. It conjures the following exchange:
Chloe: "Hey, Chief, pass me the coloring book."
Me: "Here you go, Honey. And don't call me Chief!"
A great grandfather name (though not a great-grandfather name) is the unlisted and presumably unique moniker bestowed on David Wright, not the New York Mets slugger but a professional window cleaner who recently cleaned the windows at our house: Granddude. For a goateed guy who used to be both a lawyer and a monk, it fits.
My buddy Tim Lovelette, who has four granddaughters, has two grandfather names, both on the AGA list: Big Daddy and Grumpy.
"Both are pretty accurate," Tim once told me.
His wife, Jane, also is known by two names on the AGA list: Go-Go (she's a marathon runner) and Grammy (I didn't know she could sing, but I eagerly await her first album).
If Jane becomes famous, she'll join other celebrities on the AGA list, including Donald Trump, who is known to his grandchildren -- with great affection, I am sure -- as Mr. Trump.
I can just imagine one of his grandkids sitting on his knee, running tiny fingers through his comb-over and asking, "Mr. Trump, will I be a hair to your fortune?"
On the grandmother side is Martha Stewart, who is called, simply, Martha.
I'm sure she would recommend using fine china to serve Count Chocula to your perfect little grandchild. And, in a pinch, she'd probably pass along this creative tip: "If you run out of Huggies, a doily will do."
There are no celebrities on the BabyCenter list, but there are some pretty creative grandparent names.
For grandmothers: Gramma-Bamma ("Gramma-Bamma, would you read me 'Green Eggs and Hamma' "?), Safta ("Do I Safta go to bed so early?") and Yumma ("Yumma, Yumma, your cookies hit the spot in my tumma!").
For grandfathers: Bumpy ("Get in your carseat, it's gonna be a Bumpy ride"), Coach (at bedtime: "Put me in, Coach") and Koko ("I'm cuckoo for Koko!").
If I can help it, Chloe will never see these lists. But she'd no doubt agree that some grandparent names are better than others.
Take it from Nini and Poppie.