Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Of Breakfast Meats and War Movies

Olivia Pope don't need no nickname.

My first name is "Kerry" and that, along with its spelling, does not lend itself easily to a nickname. In its other variations, it usually is a nickname of itself.  "Carrie" is usually short for "Caroline," for example. But "Kerry" is not short for anything, even though I've met several people who insisted it couldn't be, it HAS to be short for something and why won't I just tell them my full name?? What am I trying to hide from them??? (I don't see anyone pestering Kerry Washington about this.)

My sister is in the same boat. Her name is Katie. Just Katie. Not Katherine, not Kathleen, not Kaitlyn. Just Katie. I should know; I named her. (If she was a boy, she would've been Busy Timmy. YOU'RE WELCOME.)

So I've never really had people try to shorten my name to a nickname. There's been the occasional "Kerr" thrown out there in casual encounters (and never repeated after the initial experiment because 1. it sounds weird and 2. dropping the "y" at the end does not really shorten it much). I had a teacher in high school who called me "Kerr Bear" like the Care Bears, which was a little perplexing but I think he was just grasping at straws.

The only real nickname I've ever had is the one my dad gave me when I was baby:  Hamchuck.

Yeah, it's right there in the title to this blog. The irony is that I hate ham. I don't even like Canadian bacon because it's too hamlike. Hamlike? Hammy? ( I love the Denny's breakfast special named "Moons Over My Hammy." But only for the pun. I'd want to substitute sausage for the ham. But "Moons Over My Sausage" just sounds really, really dirty and too unpleasant for breakfast time. Although in doing a quick search just now, I learned that Moons Over My Hammy is actually slang. I'll let you find out for yourselves. And yes, by the way, I do eat other pig products. I like bacon; I like sausage. I will even eat ham if it's chopped up in teeny tiny bits and used primarily to flavor another dish, like mac & cheese or even split pea soup. But ham on its own is gross. So are pork chops. But I digress.)

My dad, however, LOVES ham. Loves it. (Even in Spam form, god help his liver.) So much so, that I always assumed that's why he called me Hamchuck. He loved me, so of course he'd call me after his favorite meat product, right?

Well, turns out it's not quite that cute.

A few years ago, a friend of the family read my blog post about chasing after a bat in my parents' house after bringing my dad home from knee surgery. He informed me that "Hamchuck" is actually a character's name in the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets." Hamchuck (or alternately "Ham Chunk") is a Vietnamese orphan who is taken under the wing of one of the main characters, Sgt. Petersen.

Here's what IMDB said about the film:

Hamchuck is the one on the right.
"Petersen befriends a young native boy named Ham Chuck, a war orphan who has no family other than his dog and the soldiers at the basecamp. As the battle rages, the dog is killed and the boy tearfully buries his faithful companion. Symbolically, the boy uses the stick he had used to dig the dog's grave as the tombstone. As the soldiers rush to their defensive positions, the stick is knocked away, leaving an unmarked grave."

I think I preferred the pork product reference.


  1. OH GOSH what a sad story about the dog and boy....can I admit to you one secret? As a veg since I was 16, there are times my mouth waters when I see a cooked ham or bacon.....

  2. OH! And my full name is Gary Edward Rith. My handwriting has always been so terrible that when I was a kid my nickname was Garg because that was the way it looked when I wrote it. The wife calls me Teddy though, from the Edward! And I call her Pumpkin :) because of her azz, actually.... GAWD did I actually say that?