My husband, Rob, has a knack for nonsense nicknames. Or they sound like pure nonsense anyway. His term of endearment for me for years has been B.D. This used to kind of bother me when I was teaching high school since B.D. is teacher shorthand for behavior disorder -- an official label for a tough-to-handle student (who probably didn’t benefit from having the label -- but that’s another story). In my case it stood for Big Dawg, which is not necessarily much more complimentary. But I’ve come to accept it as my household name.
And for a couple months now, Rob has been tossing around different nicknames for Owen. For a while he was calling him “butter,” which somehow didn’t have the right ring to it in my ears. And then he moved on to “Chinchilla.” For a couple months now Rob’s been calling Owen “Chinchilla” and I’ve been imagining that it was a case of him being inspired by Owen’s chubby chin and then tacking some nonsense sounds on the end.
This week Rob finally decided to clue me in. I’d forgotten the chinchilla is a rabbit-like animal native to the mountains of northern Chile that somehow made it into one of those word-and-photograph animal board books we own but that I hadn’t looked at carefully for quite a while. And now that I know the inspiration behind the name, I have to admit there’s a vague resemblance
– and now that Owen’s alternating time on all fours and just the hind legs, the resemblance is growing stronger (especially when you can’t see the real chincilla’s tail). Although, I’ll admit that the real chinchilla, with his meager forelegs, does not look quite as capable of wielding cardboard-tube weapons.
In any case, I kind of like the name. And Owen does to. If Rob calls out “Chinchilla” from another room, Owen will shout “dada” with equal enthusiasm. And the “Chincilla-dada-chincilla-dada-chinchilla-dada” song plays on for as long as Rob keeps up his part of the chorus.