By Tim Whyte
I made a joke one time with my son and one of his hockey teammates, about a decade ago. We were talking about nicknames, and I said I’d like to be called T-Bone.
You know. Like George Costanza on “Seinfeld.”
There was an episode in which George decided he wanted to have a cool nickname at work, and he thought “T-Bone” would be just the ticket. Except one of his coworkers snagged it out from under him by ordering a T-bone steak for lunch, prompting the big boss to tag the other guy, not George, with the T-Bone nickname.
It was a fitting outcome for the ever-hapless George.
So when I told Luc’s buddy, sort of joking, that I wanted to be called T-Bone, it stuck.
The kid — a goalie named Merrick, who went on to play for Harvard and is now a prospect in the Phoenix Coyotes’ system — got a kick out of it. He would hop in the back of my truck for a ride to hockey practice and holler: “Teee-BONE!”
He was a fun kid.
Later on, when my daughter got older, I joked with a couple of her friends, Shayne and Kyra, and told them that Luc’s friend Merrick used to call me T-Bone. They picked up the ball and ran with it, and, independently, they picked up on Merrick’s enunciation of it:
I hadn’t really thought about how it had stuck with the kids until we were taking pictures before the senior prom last weekend. No one has ever called me “T-Bone” except for my kids’ friends. It’s not the sort of thing I would seek from my own generation — really, people, please don’t start — and I was really only kidding In the first place.
But it DID stick with the kids. In fact there was a time last summer when we took Brooke and a couple of her pals to the Luke Bryan concert at Dodger Stadium, and I got separated from the group on the way out and I couldn’t find our car.
I’d about given up hope when I heard someone shout across the vast expanses of the parking lot in Chavez Ravine: “Teee-BONE!”
It guided me home.
And then last week, before the prom, there we were, snapping away, taking picture after picture, a gaggle of parental paparazzi gathered around multiple couples over the course of two photo sessions at different locations. My daughter was looking fabulous along with her date James — a very nice young man who was a receiver on the Saugus football team — and several other couples, all connected by high school friendships.
At least three or four of the kids called me T-Bone at one point or another, almost conspiratorially, like we were all in on the same 10-year-old joke together.
One of the other parents even quietly asked my wife, “Is he OK with that?”
Yep. Definitely OK with it. It made me smile. Fun kids, each of them with a sense of humor crafted with just the right amount of wickedness. And soon, they’ll all be off to college or careers, going in their own directions, and there won’t be anyone left around to call me T-Bone.
I think I might just retire it. I know this for sure: I’ll miss it.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal. His column appears Sundays. On Twitter: @TimWhyte.