29 May 2012

the ballad of slim jim

his full name is Ian Christian Marsh.

that's the name on his birth certificate and passport. it will be the name that is on his high school diploma that he receives this Saturday.

he is my dear eldest son. 19 years old to be exact.

but early on in his unique and amazing journey, he inadvertently received another name. a name that has endeared him not only to his family, but to many of his friends as well. a name that has taken on innumerable variations and brought continual laughter to our household over these many years.

when Ian was a wee lad, we bought him some little blue jeans. and we noticed that the ones that fit him the best were the 'slim' cut. this surprised us, as i was a 'husky' cut kid myself back in the dark ages. but Ian has truly ALWAYS been his own person. and we had noticed for most of his life up to that point that he was definitely on the skinny side of the scales.

so, once we got the jeans and were heading out of the store, i simply called out to him, 'c'mon, let's go, Slim Jim.'

and a 'legend' was born.

it's not that 'Ian' is such a challenging name to pronounce that we had to shorten it somehow. it's just that 'Slim Jim' rolls off the tongue in such a sing-songish kind of manner. it's fun to say.

i even made up a little song about that i still sing to him this day...

Slim Jim
Slim Jim
He's sneaky, slick and slim

terrible songwriting (i could have easily found a way to not use the word 'slim' three times in an eight-word rhyme). but it's catchy. and Ian loves that i sing it the first time just in a regular, soft voice, but the second time, i stop after the second 'Slim Jim'...and pause...and lean into his ear...and pause some more...and then whisper, 'He's sneaky, slick and slim!' BIG smile and giggles from Jim. EVERY time.

and the song is true. since Ian didn't have expressive language until he was 8 1/2 years old, he was very quiet, and therefore, VERY sneaky and slick in his ability to appear and disappear from rooms, stores, shopping malls, front yards, back yards, etc.

but over time, we also realized that 'Jim' is a great name because you can put any combination of adjectives in front of it and create a seemingly infinite list of new nicknames. and they basically all 'work'. and they're all, to one degree or another, funny.

Ian laughs (which happens quite often) = 'Giggling Jim'.
Ian is excited about something (which is most hours of most days) = 'Jubilant Jim' or 'Jovial Jim' or 'Jocular Jim' or 'Jumping Jim'.
Ian smiles for the camera = 'Grin Jim'.
Ian jumps in the pool/lake/river/ocean = 'Swim Jim'.
Ian wins at Special Olympics = 'Gold/Silver/Bronze Medalist Jim' or 'Blue/Red/Yellow/White Ribbon Jim'.
Ian dances = 'Bust-A-Move Jim' or 'Boogie Down Jim' or 'Funky Monkey Jim' or 'Jiving Jim'.
Ian sneaks some ice cream or Sprite from the refrigerator undetected = 'Sneaky Jim' or 'Mischievous Jim'.
Ian gets upset because there is an unanswered message on our answering machine = 'O.C.D. Jim'.
Ian pushes the buttons quickly and repeatedly on our answering machine, producing the 'scratching' effect of DJ's = 'Rapmaster Jim'.
Ian pushes OUR buttons = 'Jeez, Jim!'
Ian just being himself = 'Joyful Jim'.

you get the idea. the possibilities are endless.

some of our friends have gotten into the 'game' of finding new 'Jim' names over the years.

on our first visit to Missoula, before we moved here, we stayed with the McKay family, who are dear friends now, but who the boys were meeting for the first time. Ian wakes up early EVERY day. WITHOUT an alarm. so on our first morning there, he was up before everyone, as usual. and he went to find some cereal for breakfast, as usual. but he didn't know where to look. so he went into their storage closet downstairs (which was in the guest area where we were staying), and found some cereal. a Costco-size box of Lucky Charms. he went up to the kitchen and poured himself his usual-size bowl (which is about as big as Mount Vesuvius) and dug in. when Joy came downstairs, she saw Ian's face peering out from behind this massive mountain of cereal.

'hi, Joy' he whispered ('Sneaky Jim' had been caught).
'what have you got there, Ian?' Joy kindly asked.
'LUCKY CHARMS!' ('Grin Jim' on full display).

and to this day, every year on his birthday, the McKay's get Ian a sweet card...and a HUGE box of Lucky Charms.

and thus he has been dubbed....

'Lucky Jim'.

(Mike McKay, upon receiving a video from me of Ian making his first basket in a Special Olympics tourney game, replied with one of the most creative and memorable nicknames of all time... 'Nothing-But-Net Jim'.)

i could go on for hours listing off 'Jim' names that have come to us and others over the past 15 years or so.

as his graduation from high school approaches this weekend, more names just keep surfacing around our household.

'Graduate Jim'.
'Cap & Gown Jim'.
'Pomp & Circumstance Jim'.
'Honour Student Jim'.
'BMOC (Big Man On Campus) Jim'.

some of the names have morphed over time, as he has grown in so many ways and exceeding so many expectations (ours especially).

i've even had to alter the song a bit, since he's not a little boy anymore (and some of those Lucky Charms, etc. have expanded his waistline a bit)...

He's sneaky, slick and slim

(had to keep the last line the same because it just makes us laugh so much.)

but like Ian himself, some names will forever remain the same. because they are just so evocative of how endearing a young man he truly always has been, and always will be.

'Happy Jim'.
'Gracious Jim'.
'Friendly Jim'.
'Caring Jim'.

and especially...


(Joyful Jim's graduation announcement...
taken when he was 3 years old,
right after i had sang him his song :)

PS. What are some of YOUR favourite 'Jim' nicknames for Ian? What is one that came to mind while reading this? POST THEM in the comments section below...and ADD to the legend, the 'Ballad of SLIM JIM' :D


  1. You made me smile so much with this that my co-workers asked what I am up to. Congratulations to 'Jim' and the fantastic people who raised him.

  2. I can't add anything to the "Jim" name list, but I CAN name a song that I'm quite sure has the same tune as his song...
    Trans Van,
    Trans Van,
    It's Dirty, Slow, and Tan

    Love your amazing boy and am beyond proud of all the hard work and dedication you have ALL put in to making this amazing day happen. Happy Graduation, Tassle Jim!!

    1. oh YES! that blessed old Trans Van :) and you DID add to the 'ballad'...'Tassle Jim'! thanks, Megs, for all YOUR love and support for BIG Blue from his very first breath at 1.08am that blessed morning so long ago...love you, friend :)

  3. way to "knock it out of the park jim". i love you dat! kir

  4. Reading your blog makes me miss you guys. You and Kir have always been nicknamers. :) Congrats to Tassle Jim (well done Laswell) - I still remember him as a baby.

    1. thanks, brendan...so glad you were rescued from that hole at the beach ;) peace to you.