Nicknames- they almost always come with a story. This is a simple one, and fortunately not nearly as embarrassing as many people’s nicknames (especially those given by older siblings… my sister and I call each other ‘Fartface’ and ‘Poohead’, only someone you love can call you something like that… But I digress).
I was working at SET BC (Special Education Technology, BC). Local school board SLP’s (Speech Language Pathologists), SET BC Staff and Easter Seal’s set up a joint venture summer camp for a week at Camp Squamish, it ran for several years in different iterations. All of the campers were kids who used AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication Technology). This camp brought together my favourite things- Cool Communicators (people who use AAC to communicate), fantastic technology, people who love their work, camp, and a whole lot of fun. One of the other SLP’s was Lois, a colleague and friend. We were sitting outside, having a bit of a break, and we were showing my dermatographia to some of the camp staff (it’s a good ice breaker). We were sitting on the grass- which had been mown earlier in the day. I stood up, and Lois looked at the back of my legs. “Holy crap! What is wrong with your legs?” I look back. Hives from the juice, dermatographia from the poky blades… They were pretty special looking. I said “Oh, what, you thought I wasn’t allergic to grass?” She thought for a minute..
“You know, I know a lot of people who are allergic to grass, and I’ve never seen them look like that! Is there anything you aren’t allergic to, or are you basically one big walking allergy?”
Now, if it had been at work, or just hanging out with friends, well, that would have been that. But we were at camp. And there’s this thing that happens when people are at camp, or playing on a team, or during frosh week… Things like nicknames tend to ‘stick’. The harder you try to unstick them, the more it stays. Thus, I became The Walking Allergy. That was about a decade ago. We had no idea how prophetic it was.