When fabled nicknames go wrong


Never believe your own PR.

Years ago I was married to a criminal lawyer, whose name I’ll shorten to Ken Q.  He defended impossible cases and his acquittals made headlines.  A reporter dubbed him “Hurricane Q” and methinks it went to his head.

Though of Irish background, Ken decided he wanted a “Chinese chop.”  This would be an ink stamp with his fabled nickname carved onto it.  Off to Chinatown we go, and at a curio store, Ken gives careful instruction on translating “Hurricane Q” onto the seal.

We return to pick it up and then a thought occurred to me.

“Ken, how do you know it really says Hurricane Q?”

For once the trial lawyer was wordless.

I said, “Let’s duck into this store and ask someone to translate the stamp into English.”

So I make a beeline for the Chinese man behind the counter. “Can I ask you to read something?”

I whip out the carved seal, and stamp the Chinese characters onto a piece of paper.

“What does this say?”

“Big wind.”

April 12 is Big Wind Day.  It’s a day to remember the highest wind speed ever recorded (231 m.p.h. April 12, 1934, Mount Washington Observatory), but that will never be my first thought.  Ever.

Is there a Big Wind blowing in your life?

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7 thoughts on “When fabled nicknames go wrong”

  1. Great story, Suzette. That’s just why I don’t buy things like the stamp. I’ll be polite and not mention all the ways I’ve heard “Big Wind” interpreted.

  2. Back in the early 90s I traveled to the Far East with a touring group of opera singers. In one place we visited, we were each given a stamp with our name on it, in Chinese.

    Now you have me wondering …

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