Did anyone ever give you a nickname that upset you?

When I was little, there was a kid who lived up the street from me. His name was Donald Barrett. Donald and his little brother, Nick, were good friends of mine. It’s weird, but I can’t recall much of anything that we did TOGETHER, except for football or wiffle-ball in the front yard. I spent time with Nick, pretending to be a DJ as we listened to rock n roll records, swimming at the Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s pool in Oakley, or shooting pool in his basement. I spent time with Donald playing with Star Wars figures, playing on the same baseball team (go Tom-E-Hawks) or pretending we were the band and singing along with the albums The Monkees and More of the Monkees.

I can’t remember the circumstances that led up to it but, one day, Donald called me a “baby chocolate cake.” And I swear you could hear the scratching sound of a record needle as the entire world came to a sudden and abrupt halt. There was about 3 seconds of complete and utter silence. And then I started crying. Somehow, this was so much worse than “dork” or “idiot” or “dumb bell.” Me? A baby chocolate cake? Really? Oh no! No no no NO!!!!!!!!

I don’t remember Donald leaving, although I’m sure he hightailed it outta there. I don’t remember how long I cried, but it felt like hours. I do remember that I was inconsolable as I sat in my mom’s lap and cried into her shoulder. It took some time for me to be able to explain what had happened because I would completely fall apart before I could get the words “baby chocolate cake” out of my mouth.

“And then he…::sniff::…and the he called…::deep breath::…and then he called me a babbbbbbwwaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Eventually I calmed down. Eventually I told her what happened. And eventually I got over it because, after all, it was just an isolated incident. But that’s not how kids are. Despite how good friendships are, kids know how to push other kids’ buttons and they’ll do it with or without any reason.

Over time, Donald’s insult graduated into something more than a simple name-calling. It became a taunt, whose sole purpose was to get a rise out of me. The singsong lilt of “Kevin is a baby chocolate caaaake” never once failed to make me cry my eyes out.

In 1980, when I was 10 years old and in the fourth grade, the movie The Empire Strikes Back was released. I spilled the beans to Donald that (SPOILER ALERT!) Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father. He hadn’t seen the movie yet and he was mad at me. And rightly so! After all, that revelation eventually landed on Premiere magazine’s list of the 25 Most Shocking Moments in Movie History.

I don’t know if that what was caused it but, after that, Donald and I didn’t hang around much anymore. “Kevin is a baby chocolate caaaake” it seemed, had simply disappeared. A couple years later, Donald graduated from 6th grade and moved on to 7th at Walnut Hills Jr. /Sr. High School. I moved onto 6th grade and, upon graduation, went to St. Mary for Junior High.

After completing 8th grade at St. Mary, I attended Purcell-Marian High School. It was there, in my freshman year, that I first met Dave VanBenschoten. A fellow freshman, we became acquainted through a mutual friend that I knew from St. Mary. I initially found him to be a bit odd due to his intelligence, but a sense of humor and a shared appreciation for Star Trek helped us become friends.

During my sophomore year and by way of my girlfriend at the time, I met Paul Findsen. He was a junior and quite possibly the tallest person I’d ever met who was also within my peer group. Possessed with creativity that I’m still somewhat envious of to this day, Paul had a sense of humor unlike any I’d experienced before. And he looked like David Bowie.

Paul, Dave, and I spent many a day discussing a variety of topics ranging anywhere and everywhere from Monty Python to Japanese swordplay to Star Trek. One particular day during my junior year, we were at Paul’s house when Paul told us of a computer game that he was having some trouble with. He couldn’t get past a certain point in the text-based adventure game Star Trek: The Promethean Prophecy and suggested we work together to try to figure it out.

We gathered around the computer and took turns being the captain, meaning the one in control of the keyboard and actually entering any commands. Paul was first, since it was his game and he had to familiarize us with the game. He got to The Troublesome Point in which the Enterprise is being attacked by a Romulan vessel. No matter what we tried, the enemy got the best of us and the Enterprise was destroyed. Game over.

Dave was next. Again, everything was fine and dandy up until The Troublesome Point where, despite several more suggestions from Paul and me, the Romulan enemy was victorious (again).

Finally, it was my turn. We wasted no time in getting to the Troublesome Point. The three of us reviewed past actions taken and didn’t thoughtlessly react to the events on the screen. During the battle, Spock reports the presence of a “data image” moving in conjunction with the enemy vessel. Paul suggested we fire torpedoes at the mysterious image. I typed the command into the computer and Lo! And Behold…the Romulan enemy was destroyed. From our excitement, you would have thought we had just cured cancer.

About a month or so later, Dave and I were sitting next to each other at work passing funny notes and drawings back and forth. The movie Spaceballs had recently been released and had us in the mindset of creating parodies of Star Wars and Star Trek. I liked the Eagle 5 (Winnebago spacecraft) from Spaceballs and I asked Dave, who was artistically inclined, to draw a picture of my car, a Volkswagen Beetle, with Star Trek warp engines attached to it. He did and gave it the following caption: Commanded by B.C. Cakes, the USS Entropy boldly goes where no man has gone before.

I don’t ever remember telling Dave about “baby chocolate cake” but, clearly, I must have. At first I was all, “Dude! What the fuck, man? Baby Chocolate Cakes?” but he thought it was fun and that I should get over it.

“Why not? Make it something other than some sort of dirty label.”

So that’s what I did. Paul and Dave and I created an entire Star Trek parody universe, complete with 15 short stories, another 5 that are unfinished, several illustrations, and even a soundtrack, revolving around the crew of the USS Entropy under the command of B.C. Cakes.

The name has branched out into other areas as well. B.C. Cakes is my login name on certain website forums and blogs. It’s also my I.D. in the multiplayer online game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Twenty years ago, Dave was right in re-saddling me with that name. With the help of some good friends, I was able to take ownership of it and define it instead of it defining me. It’s funny how a name that once made me cry has become a name that I’m rather proud of.

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So, I’ve got this story. It didn’t happen to me. It happened to someone else. But I was there. And to this day, I think it is the funniest thing I have ever witnessed. Of course, it’s at the expense of someone else and laughing about it is probably a cruel thing to do, but he was a friend of mine. And we all know that, in friendships, it’s totally OK to laugh once you’ve determined there is no phyiscal trauma. The cast of character’s in this little tale are Johnny, Sarah (Johnny’s sister), Chris, Stevie, a handful of other friends and a dog named Wilbur. Names have been changed to protect the humiliated.

When I was 14, waaaayyyyy back in 1984, a bunch of us were sitting on Johnny’s porch goofing around, listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack cassette on the ghetto blaster and talking about how cool it would be to be a ninjas. Chris and his younger brother, Stevie (about 10 years old) lived two doors down from Johnny. They had heard us playing the music and had come out of their house with their dog, Wilbur. We all liked Wilbur. He was a medium sized dog with short, jet-black fur. He was very friendly and would let anyone and everyone pet him. Wilbur didn’t mind playing a bit rough and it was not unusual for someone to be wrestling with him, at least for a few minutes, whenever he was brought around.

As I said we were talking about ninjas and had gotten into a debate as to who was better…Sho Kosugi (from Revenge of the Ninja) or James Ryan (from Kill and Kill Again). Chris had joined in, siding with the Ryanites and Stevie was down in the yard with Wilbur. As the conversation continued, Stevie gave his two-cents about Sho Kosugi being better because, “he took those guys with the guns and was, like, ‘Hiiiiyaahhhh, heeyaaah boff’ and they were all hurt and stuff and dropped their guns and ran away. If I was that Sho Kosugi guy, I’d have been all ‘yah yah oyyyyyyyy!’” While he was saying this, he was demonstrating his own…let’s say “martial art style”… with Wilbur. Stevie eventually got down on the ground and was rolling around with Wilbur, who was yipping and crouching the way dogs do when they play. Stevie was grabbing Wilbur…Wilbur was slapping at Stevie with his paw.

That’s when things got out of hand.

Stevie was on his hands and knees and charged head-first at Wilbur. Wilbur reacted by rearing up a bit and getting his paws on Stevie’s shoulders…and then he began humping. Unfortunately, Stevie was not able to get out of this position. Wilbur was just too heavy. Stevie was screaming and flailing his arms trying to get them to a place where he could push the dog off, but Wilbur wasn’t about to be disuaded. We could hear Stevie calling for help, but we were too busy laughing. Wilbur kept right on humping and, eventually, Stevie stopped flailing and screaming and just collapsed…no longer fighting the inevitable. Wilbur continued his humping and we were laughing so hard that we were crying. Sarah ended up peeing her pants because she was laughing so hard.

Finally, Wilbur stopped. Through our tears, we could see Stevie get to his knees. He had that shell-shocked, thousand yard stare and his hair…my God, his hair…on one side…had a glazed look to it. He sat there like that until Chris was able to get his laughter under control. As Chris was helping him up, Stevie silently looked at him with eyes that seemed to say, “Where am I? What just happened?” Chris led him home and the rest of the day was filled with our reenactments of the event.

I recently had a discussion with some people about consequences. It started off with us talking about our kids and teaching them consequences, but rapidly turned into a big share-fest of personal stories about consequences.

For one guy, it was touching a hot stove. For another, it was throwing snowballs at cars and hitting a police car with one. For another, it was getting cut when handling a pocket-knife for the first time. Mine had to do with throwing rocks. At windows.

I was about 9 or 10 and our house was next door to small apartment building. I always thought that was odd, considering it was the only apartment building on the whole entire street, but I’m told it’s because the neighborhood was built before certain zoning laws were established and, well…there you have it.

ANYWAY…I was about 9 or 10 and my next door neighbor (other next door, NOT the apartment next door) and I were playing in his back yard. We got to wondering if we could throw rocks all the way across my backyard and hit the window on the apartment building. This was not a big pane window, it was divided into small squares.

So, we spent some time throwing nickel and quarter sized rocks at this window until one of us, I can’t remember who, broke it. Yay! Mission accomplished! Whaddya wanna do now? It never entered our heads that this was vandalism, or it was wrong, or that someone was going to have to pay money to repair it. We just wanted to see if we could do it.

WELL…as you can probably guess, we were caught. Turns out the old woman who lived in the apartment had spied us through the window and she told my dad. I was the older one, so I MUST have been the ring-leader. My dad paid for the pane replacement and I had to spend an hour each day for a week helping this lady with some chores. I vacuumed her floor, washed her dishes, mopped her floor, took out her garbage, etc. But I was OK with all of that. In my mind, my punishment was just being around her.

Those of you who know me well are no doubt aware that I’m rather quite, introverted and uncomfortable when it comes to interacting with people whom I do not know very well. That hour each day was the longest hour ever. Being 9 or 10, I wasn’t very good at the chores I was doing and she was constantly talking to me about how to do it. Looking back, she was actually trying to teach and help me. She was very patient and she didn’t criticize, she’d dry the dishes while I washed, she’d get the bucket and mop ready…pretty classy. She could have been a mean old bitch, but she wasn’t.

But, damn, I hated it. I would have just rather done the chores and not said two words to her. But no. I had to talk about my school and things I liked to do and listen to her tales of changes the neighborhood had gone through. ::Shudder::

When the week was over, my dad asked if I had learned my lesson. I said yes. He asked what it was that I learned. I told him that you shouldn’t throw rocks at windows because you might have to be with someone you don’t know and talk about things. I remember him agreeing about the rock throwing and was satisfied that I wouldn’t do it anymore. He wasn’t too thrilled with my reason though. He explained the whole “vandalism” and “respect for others” to me, which was all well and good. But I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of the punishment if it was just going to rely on those concepts. The “having to be around and talk with someone you don’t know” thing is what really drove the lesson home.