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On the Etymology of a Mookie

by Mookie (Mike) Horvath

Okay, most Prout (and non-Prout) people who have heard me referred to as "Mookie" have wondered where, exactly, I acquired the unusual handle. If I tried, I'm sure I could come up with something really obscure and weird, in a Chris Carter sort of way, but I'll stick with the truth, or at least what I remember of it:

Freshman year. Winter (?). I and several other people (Jeremy (?), Sam and Maverick, inter alia) went to a movie in Toledo. "Nowhere to Run," or something like that, starring Jean Claude VanDamme. In the movie, as I remember it, the VanDamme character is hiding out in a tent in the woods in someone's backyard, reading a nudie mag. Suddenly the tent flap opens, and there's this little kid standing there.

Before VanDamme can react, the boy starts in nonchalantly. "My name's Mike, but everybody calls me Mookie." Mook sees the porn. "Eeew -- you like boobies? I don't -- I think they're gross."

The movie went on in predictable testosterone style; I didn't even remember the scene, or think of it as a significant event in my life (until later). It didn't even strike me that the kid's name was Mike. We came back to Darrow, and, as we were prone to do that year, settled down in 244 to hang for the night with anyone and everyone who dropped by, including Stephanie, who had not been with us to the movie. I had had a Coke or something at the movie, so I went "down the hall" for a couple of minutes.

When I came back, there was an instant hush in the room (or maybe there wasn't -- I'm telling a story here, is that okay with you?). Stephanie looks up at me and says, "So, did you enjoy the movie, Mookie?"

Now, back then I wasn't exactly the happy-go-lucky Type B personality that I am today [sarcasm and understatement off]. Everyone laughed (at me!), and I really hated that, so I tried my best to squash that nickname before it caught on. I scowled, and grunted, and perhaps even left the room (I don't really remember through the rage). I failed.

People kept calling me Mookie on and off since then, and every time I tried to dissuade the individual (usually Stephanie). However, I realized the futility of my efforts at one Prout Table gathering. Somebody (I think it was Evan this time), who hadn't been at the original Mookie Christening, accidentally mispronounced it, and called me "Mokey."

Immediately, and without thinking, I whirled around. "That's MOOKIE, damn it!"

I realized what I had said a few seconds later, but by then it was too late.

I guess the nickname wasn't all that bad, after all. I'm glad that Mookie was the one that stuck, instead of "Butterboy" (a whole 'nuther story). Like everyone else in college, I think I changed significantly from the guy who inhabited 244 that first year. If I were prone to cheezy symbolism, I would suppose that the new moniker adequately signified the change.

Jeremy D. Zawodny / jzawodn@bgnet.bgsu.edu

Updated: April 19th, 1997