Intersections – The Daughters of Prince
By Nicki Salcedo, contributor
I love nicknames. If I know you, I probably have a nickname for you. If you don’t like nicknames, then I have a secret code name for you behind your back. Nicknames are fun. Nicknames are funny. This coming from a woman named Nicki.
I wasn’t born Nicki. I was given the nickname from a family friend who liked Nikki Giovanni. I don’t care how you spell my name. I have yearbooks and birthday cards and books autographed to every variation of Nicky, Nickie, and Nikki. It makes me laugh in email correspondences where my name is clearly visible, and I still get back a misspelling of my name. I don’t mind.
To further add to the confusion, my parents called me by my middle name, Elizabeth, when I was a kid.
I felt a special kinship to all the “Nikki’s” in the world when Prince died. There should be a special funeral service just for us, his darlings. Whether or not we liked Prince, we knew him intimately.
Prince was the man who made my life uncomfortable since 1984. Every male I’ve ever met has sung me the first line of “Darling Nikki” or called me “Darling Nikki.” That never got old. Wait, it did. In 1985.
Because of Prince, I bravely asked my mother about the word “masturbation” having no idea what it meant. My mother is good, wholesome, pious, and conservative. She responded without missing a beat.
“It’s giving pleasure to yourself.”
I’m pretty sure she doesn’t remember this conversation. But I do. She didn’t ask me where I’d heard the word. She didn’t chastise me. Her answer was both vague and honest. I had to ponder what her definition really meant for several more years. When I found out the full definition in graphic detail, my first thought was, “Thanks, Prince.” My second thought was, “My mom was right.”
I’ve spent my whole life being associated with a sex fiend because of my nickname.
Bono is a nickname, but Prince used his real name. Then he changed his name to a symbol that could not be spoken, and we accepted this without question. That’s genius. To make things easier he allowed us to call him “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” That’s really sticking it to the man, Prince! We just said your legal name in your code name.
I actually gave his so called “Love Symbol” a nickname, “Woman plus male plus trumpet.” Not actually easier to say, but after what he did to my name, I took no pity on his.
I know his home town of Minneapolis was hard hit by his death, but Atlanta has been greatly saddened by his passing. We saw him last. He gave a performance that many of my friends declared as the best thing they’d ever seen in their lives.
“It was like a private concert in his living room,” one of my friends said.
“Prince was the first concert I saw as a teen. And now he is my last concert.”
“I saw Prince open for Rick James.”
I don’t know how many kids will be named Nikki in future generations. Maybe it will come back into vogue when I am Grandma Nikki. By then everyone will have forgotten that we were Prince’s darlings.
You live a weird life when your name is in a song. You know exactly what song you’ll sing when you meet a woman named Michelle or Caroline. Why aren’t their more songs where we serenade men? Someone is bound to write a song or two about Prince. The man with no nickname. The man with royalty in his blood from birth. The man who wrote and sang about anything that came his mind. The man who played his heart out in Atlanta like it was his last time.
We are just sorry that it was.
We won’t mind if you call us Darling Nikki now.
“Intersections,” the book, is a collection of columns from Decaturish.com and beyond. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.