The Soupster talks about nicknames and writing.
Originally published March 27, 2008
The Soupster sat on the big rock behind the library, staring at a departing fishing boat outlined by the setting sun, reminded again that Our Town could look glorious. “We should all be painters,” he muttered to an invisible audience. Then, he heard a voice.
“Soupster,” said Rocky “Stallion” Bilbao — whose name sounded like “Rocky Balboa” and, since Bilbao was of a slight stature, he was naturally called “Stallion” after the “Italian Stallion,” according to the perverse rules of nicknames — “you’re muttering.”
“My father used to mutter,” said the Soupster. “So did me Mutter.”
“Hah!” said Rocky. “Say Soupster, why do you call me `Stallion?’”
“You know the rules of nicknames,” said the Soupster, who thought he was stating the obvious.
“Your name sounds like Rocky Balboa’s and you don’t look at all like a boxer, so you get a boxer’s nickname. Like naming a really big guy `Tiny.’”
“But my name is Bilbao, which is a city in Spain that has a famous art museum,” Stallion said. “So why don’t you call me `Art?’”
“Guggenheim?” asked the Soupster.
“Garfunkle?” countered Stallion.
“No, Guggenheim!” the Soupster pressed.
“Why would you want to call me Garfunkle Guggenheim?” asked Stallion.
“Guggenheim is the name of the museum!” said an exasperated Soupster. “Art Garfunkle was the taller half of that folk singing duo.”
The two men shuffled pebbles with their feet for a moment. “Soupster,” Stallion said finally. “You know how you’re always making me read your little stories? How come you never ask me to write one?”
“That’s not a bad idea,” said the Soupster. “Do you think you’d would want to?”
“I would,” said Stallion. “Especially if you paid me for it.”
“Okay, how’s this,” the Soupster proposed. “If you or anybody wants to write an Our Town column, the story would have to be between 450 and 500 words long, and it must connect with life in Our Town and the people of Our Town. We’ll pay $50 if we run it in the Soup.”
“You should make sure you’re in the story,” said Stallion. “You have to be a character. You should make that one of the rules… Say, Soupster, how do I know you’re serious?”
“If I was serious, I’d put it in the Soup,” said the Soupster.