You’re probably wondering why I chose the name “Twirly.” I didn’t. This is the story behind that.
I have done color guard since I was a sophomore in high school, and my freshman year of college was certainly no exception. I used to take my flag, rifle, and sabre outside to practice. I lived on campus at that time, and there was a tree outside my dorm that was shady enough to read under, and tall enough to spin under. The guys’ dorm at the bottom of the sloping lawn wasn’t a deterrent; I didn’t know anybody who lived in there, and the football stadium offered a much more intimidating audience. The occasional serenade or catcall from a window I took as a compliment. (I was only a freshman, after all.)
Fast forward a year. I’ve taken to spending entirely too much time with a group of roughly ten engineers, all male. I’ve even started to fall for one of them–but that’s another story entirely. One of them, Panda, was an acquaintance from childhood (he once told a bully to leave me alone during recess; he still denies it), and my “in” to the group.
Now, this particular set of engineers had taken to nicknaming, not only one another, but also strangers that they saw regularly. Some of the most memorable were Chops, Whale Girl, Crazy Girl, Australia Girl, Steam Girl (yeah, I know, lots of girls), and Captain Porno. Well, one day Panda and I were discussing these nicknames when it occurred to me: “Wait. Did you ever nickname me?”
Panda pulled a face, trying to hide a smile. I gasped.
“What was it?!”
“Aw, man. I don’t know how to tell you without coming off like a stalker.”
“Now you have to tell me!”
Panda sighed. “Should I tell her, Noodles?” he called to his neighbor.
“I don’t see why not,” came the reply from the other room.
“Remember how you used to practice your color guard stuff on Memorial Lawn? Well, see, we lived in Memorial–and, in our defense, you were hard to miss. So, every so often, we’d be in the lounge and somebody would say, ‘Twirly Girl is at it again.’ And we’d all watch for a little while before going back to our homework. But we’re not stalkers.”
“You watched me from a window?!” I laughed. Panda started to protest, but I interrupted, “That’s awesome! That explains why you were all so awkward when I first met you!”
“That’s not the only reason, but, yeah; we’re all pretty awkward when we meet the people we’ve nicknamed in real life.”
Telling the other guys that I knew their little secret was pretty fun. But that was that. Once it was out in the open, I became Twirly Girl. The nickname went through a few mutations–Twirls, Twirly Whirly Gumdrop, and just plain Twirly–but, regardless, Twirls is a part of me. She is, perhaps, my favorite version of myself. And she is here to stay.