The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

The 'Worm' reaches another milestone


November 16, 2017 | View PDF

If your family is anything like mine, everyone has some kind of nickname. For me, I was raised on the nickname of “Bones,” mainly because I was one of those kids so skinny growing up that you could count the number of bones. Since I have added ample padding, mostly now I go by “Boomer,” which is a nickname I picked up during my days of painting every gray in the Navy.

Of course, my spouse goes by “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Made-Mad” or “The Grouch.” Not that SWMNBMM is the next coming of Mike Tyson or anything like that when she gets angry. She’s actually, the most passive person on the planet as long as you haven’t married her. Something about wedding cake has seriously distorted her ability to deal with her husband. It has to be the cake … I mean, what else could it be? I mean, aren’t all men the greatest blessings their wives have ever had? Personally, I know I must be because every time I tell SWMNBMM something, she closes her eyes tight and goes to praying to me.

I have to tell you, even though it is flattering that she worships me, I always tell her to not refer to me as “Oh God ...”

Even children carry nicknames. Our oldest daughter Whitney goes by “Whitter” while our youngest daughter has a plethora of names, including “Lil’ Bug,” “Bugger,” or “K-Mode.” Our youngest son, Bobby was blessed with the name of B-Bob (from his mother). I refuse to call him that because it makes him feel uppity. I just call him “Putz.”

Then we come to my oldest son, which is a whole other story. You see, my oldest son has a name problem. Namely in that he has spent the past 26 years trying to steal mine. You see, when he was born his mother (probably stemming from her belief that I’m a god) named him Tommy Joe Wells, Jr. Of course, having the same name as someone who lives in the same house can be quite confusing. Every time someone said “Tommy” we would both listen. Well, unless SWMNBMM called … then we both pretended to be deaf.

“Didn’t you hear me calling you?” she would exclaim as she walked into a room where I was.

“Yes, but I thought you were calling our son,” I said.

As you might expect, that led SWMNBMM into transforming into our family’s version of “The Grinch.” I can assure you when SWMNBMM is made mad, there will be no joy to be found in Whoville or any other part of our castle. Even our dog, Hercules, goes and hides.

Thus, Tommy Jr. became “Bubba.” Well, to be honest, he really became Bubba because that was as close to “brother” as Whitney could say when she was a baby. Sadly, “Bubba” eliminated my “I thought you were talking to him excuse.”

My wife likes to tell people that when the children were little she didn’t have to break them from sleeping with us, she had to break me from sleeping with them. I admit this is true … on many nights when I got off work after covering some sporting event, I would move all of them into our bed and crash with them in a big pile. It was quite fun until we realized that it was “Bubba” who tended to wiggle and squirm a lot while he was sleeping.

Hence, he developed the nickname “Worm,” which he carries to this day. I’m sure all of his buddies working in Seward or Homer will smile when they hear me call the 6-foot-5 guy a “worm.”

As he was going through school, “Bubba” decided that he wanted to go by his given name in class. It was always better for athletics to be called “Tommy Gun” than “Bubba Gump,” you know. That decision took us back to the problem “Bubba” had solved. When his coaches or friends called, they would always ask for Tommy.

“This is Tommy,” I would answer.

“Oh, I meant Little Tommy?” they would say.

“Again, that would be me,” I would say – remember my son towers over everyone.

“Hmmm … I want to talk to Tommy II,” they would say.

“Oh, you want to talk to Bubba ...”

I have to admit I had more fun pestering people who called on the phone than should have been possible. Heaven forbid if one of the girls he was dating called. … And it was quite interesting with me working at the same college that my son was attending. Geez … where was he when I needed someone to sit in on my math classes all those years ago?

Even though we had issues with people wanting him but getting me, or people wanting to talk to me but getting him, it has been a fun endeavor.

And regardless of which name he goes by, I’d like to take this chance to wish the “Worm” a happy birthday. We’re looking forward to his return in the spring to begin another season with the fish stories.


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