They Call Me Killer
Nicknames and Biker Gangs
Where do they come from? Sometimes it’s obvious—we’ve all seen the really tall guy called Tiny. And remember that actor . . . I think his name is Christopher . . . and he was called Topher. A little strange, but it makes sense, I guess.
When I was in middle school, I earned a nickname that stuck all through high school. It could have been a scene straight out of a Ferris Bueller movie.
Let’s take a journey back in time. . . . We had a substitute teacher at school that day.
And for a bit of background, my maiden name is Nak. My grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my one-year-old dad traveled on a boat from The Netherlands in 1948 and arrived at Ellis Island. “Nak” was stamped on all their paperwork. There has been talk through the years that our original name was much longer, but was shortened, as so many were. I should investigate that one day; it’s curious and it would be interesting to find out.
So, my maiden name is Nak, and I was listed on the class roster as S. Nak. That day we had a young and nervous substitute teacher who began calling out the names of the kids in the class. When she got to the “Ns” she called for “Snak.” Not hearing a response, she called for “Snak” again, and yet again. Frustrated, she looked down at her sheet and noticed my full name.
“Is there a Stephanie Nak here today?”
It clicked for the whole class at once, and everyone burst out laughing, looking at me and saying, “That’s you! Hey Snak!”
And it stuck. It was SOOO embarrassing to my 14-year-old self. At first, anyway. I then embraced it and had it printed on the back of my powder puff football jersey and embossed on my yearbook.
However, recently, I’ve earned a new nickname.
Three times a week, on Monday-Wednesday-Friday to be precise, I leave my house in the dark of morning to meet my biker gang—a nickname of sorts we have given ourselves. In Daytona Beach, it’s fun to watch the reactions we get when we say we are a biker gang. We are actually cycling around on overpriced bicycles, in overpriced specialty outfits, and there’s not a Harley Davidson motorcycle in our midst.
It was especially dark one morning, my headlamp and handlebar lights were on, but it was still hard to see the road in front of me. In a flash I made something out right in front of me, and then heard an awful CRUNCH, and maybe there was even a faint squeal. I had hit an armadillo! I couldn’t believe it. I felt faint . . . what if I killed him? Even more unbelievable, I didn’t crash! It was a little like running over a curb, just a bump up and over.
That day was the beginning of a long list of animals that have run out in front of or near my bicycle tires as we cycle the Ormond loop. There was the Racoon, and the Rabbit. The Possum, and the Vulture. The Snake and the Squirrel. The Squirrel actually turned around and squealed and yelled at me when my tire grazed his tail. He was not happy. We’ve had Deer and Wild Boar crashing through the woods and running alongside us. I’ve had near misses with Rats and Rodents of all kinds. It’s become a bit of a game. The biker gang is now on the lookout for an Alligator, a Florida Black Bear and the elusive Florida Panther.
One morning, when my husband was up earlier than usual, my most recent nickname came about. I had regaled him with the Armadillo story the night before. I was click-clacking around in my cycling shoes when he gave me a slap on the rump, and as I walked out the door he said, “Go get ‘em, Killer.”
And it stuck.