How about Neens instead?

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A guy at work has given me a nickname: Mouse.

Hearing it makes me want to hurl things at him, sharp pointy things dipped in venom. Except he actually seems like a somewhat nice guy so thus far I have restrained myself.

I got this nickname because I pretty much keep to myself in the office. I blame that on the weird circumstances – I have been thrust into this office of strangers to share the space but really nothing more. I don’t work with anyone there, nor is our work even similar enough to give us a starting point for a real conversation. I’m an odd floater.

For the first week or so, a couple of the friendlier people around invited me along for their afternoon coffee and I joined them. The conversation was a little stiff but I was prepared to put in some time to get past that. But after the introductory invites dried up, the lady who rounds up the troops just blatantly ignored me and attempting to join them got really awkward.

This suited me just fine, as I prefer to drink my tea in the company of good blogs anyway. I happily settled into a routine of cursory small talk in the kitchen and the elevator, with a few “good mornings” and “have a good weekends” here and there. It was all working out quite splendidly until a previous employee returned to the office and decided to take issue with it.

I actually first introduced myself to him (see? I’m trying!). Soon after, the mat hanging in my cubicle opened up a conversation about yoga. Now every few days, as I’m flipping between my stats program and my google reader (and now Twitter), I’ll be interrupted by some quiet scraping sounds and will turn around to find him at my door.

After he ribs me for a bit about being so quiet and I sit on my hands to stop myself from strangling him, we’ll chat for a few minutes about something, usually yoga or exercise-related (yeah, somehow we never moved past that). I always make an effort to appear as non-mouse-like as I can, being careful not to twitch my nose or gnaw on anything. Yet the nickname continues.

When I mentioned this to a friend, she immediately leapt to the conclusion that he was hitting on me. I really doubt it. Not because no man would ever look at me – I got hit on at the Escents store I worked at once! – but because I just don’t get that vibe from him. And besides, how booooring. I feel like the dynamic happening here is much more interesting than ‘male must be hitting on female because it’s the only reason he could possibly have to talk to her.’

I think it’s more likely that he used to be the office mouse, and is relishing the change in role. Or maybe he genuinely wants to chat with me as a break from the middle-aged frat boys around us. Probably a bit of both.

Still bugs the hell out of me to be called a mouse though. And saying “you’re quiet” is probably the worst way to start a conversation with someone.

Any ideas how I can shut this down without shutting him down?

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Posted on April 18, 2011, in Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. haha WELL my first thought also was “he’s hitting on you.” I think it could be a combination of that and the two reasons you mentioned, because those sound likely also.. but I think lack of vibe doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not hitting on you (I mean he’s calling you Mouse, if he IS hitting on you he clearly has no idea how to send a vibe properly).

    I’m not sure what to do about it, objecting to the nickname has a pretty good chance of either encouraging him to start calling you Mousey Mouse, or shutting him down completely. If you actually want him to talk to you but just not to call you Mouse, I guess just try to say in the most smiling and good-natured way possible, “I’m not a mouse! How about Nina?” probably not helpful. Good luck!

    • Yeah it is possible, though I do have pictures of John on my wall and have mentioned ‘my husband.’ Seems like that would have ended it? Not in all cases obviously, but he doesn’t seem like a sleazeball.

      And actually, I quite like your simple suggestion.

  2. Hmm. This one is tough. He’s obviously socially awkward. Guys often call each other nicknames, so he may be trying to put you in the “one of the guys” category. I might suggest a different nickname (one you can live with). I ended up being called a short form of my last name at my job, which was a sign that they had accepted me so even though it’s not my preference, I prefer it to my first name at the office.

  3. Agree with the two smartypants ladies above. New nickname please.

  4. If he’s at all a decent dude, you could just say “Hey, I don’t mind nicknames, but Mouse kind of bothers me–can you try another one?”

    If he doesn’t go for it, he’s a douche. (I agree, my first thing would either be that he’s hitting on you, or that he’s the office nicknamer.)

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