A Taco, a Duck and a Sushi walk into a bar …


This isn’t a post about a joke. This is a post about nicknames.

A friend sent me this saying last week and I instantly connected with it:

We all have a friend who only gets called by their nickname … it sounds weird to even say their real name.

That describes perfectly me and two of my good friends. Just about anyone who knew us in high school calls us by our nicknames: Taco, Duck and Sushi. We are all now in our 40s.


I picked up the nickname Taco in a junior high Spanish class. I was in Mrs. McDonald’s first period taking a quiz on vocabulary words we had been assigned. One of the sentences was something like: “Jose likes to order tacos at the restaurant.” I raised my hand and reminded the teacher that “taco” was not one of our vocabulary words so I had not learned how to say it in Spanish.

After a who’s-on-first type of exchange between Mrs. McDonald and me, it finally got through to me that taco IS a Spanish word. Duh. Everyone in the class was laughing at me, although I’m convinced I wasn’t the only one who was confundido!

Combine that day in class with the fact that my last name was Via and there was a fast food restaurant in town called Taco Via. That’s how I became Taco.

It stuck. I mean, it really stuck. It’s been 28 years and there are still friends who call me Taco and parents of those friends who may not know my real name.

When I got to college I realized quickly that it was not cool to be introduced to a group of guys as Taco. Yep, I was naïve. I tried to stop using the nickname that until then I had embraced and thought was fun.

So people who met me in college and beyond don’t call me Taco but there’s a good chance those who met me before 1990 are still going to call me Taco. I don’t mind it at all, it makes me feel loved :)



Duck is Darla – she inherited her name about the same time, when we were both at Oakland Junior High School in Columbia, Mo.

Darla’s older sister had played basketball there years before and one her coaches was still a coach when we were in school. The coach recognized Darla and recalled that her sister had a batting stance that resembled a duck. When Darla showed up for basketball try-outs with the coach, he shared the story and suddenly everyone was calling Darla by the nickname Duck.



Sushi is Lady Maria Elena Cacha Montano. With a name that long, it’s no wonder she had a nickname!

I met my Filipino friend on the volleyball team at Hickman High School. We called her Elena until the day at summer volleyball camp when her dad showed up at the dorm with homemade sushi, hoping to entice her to choose a healthy meal over the burgers everyone else was eating.

From then on, she was called Sushi or Sush.


I’m happy to say that the three of us still stay in touch. Sushi returned to her native Philippines after high school so we don’t get to see her as often as we’d like. I usually see Duck a few times a year.

For some reason I have Duck in my cell phone as Darla. When I go to look her up to send a text, it never fails that I look up Duck and get frustrated when I can’t find her. You know, I’m going to go change that right now because it just sounds weird to say her real name :)

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