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Someone We Called Titi

Ryan, one of the extremely rare men in blue to break into the college team, had just resigned – or so he said – from a call center in Makati. In between jobs, he decided to come join scrimmage.

Now, in the football team, we have had this age-old tradition of giving players nicks, and not all of them very flattering.

“Titi!” I called out when I first saw him after arriving at the field. I had not seen him for awhile.

The high school lads were around, so I felt obligated to introduce him. “This is Tee-tee,” I told the lads, then admonished them, “be careful how you say his name!”

Gleeful adolescent laughter…

Hundreds of young lads have trained under me over the past quarter of a century, so it is but understandable that I do not recall how all of their nicks came to be. “Bakit ka nga ga nagging Titi?”

“Tibayan, Sir!”

“Ah, yes, of course!” I started to recall that, in the dressing room, his college mates would pester him by repeatedly asking him the inane question, “Titi ba yan?”

Coincidentally, Liverpool FC had, at that time, a mercurial African player named Titi Camara. We all thought that, if anyone cared to ask, we could all pretend that he was named after Camara, instead.

Of course, I insisted everyone pronounced his nick Tee-tee. All sexual connotations aside, the nick was actually cute! I doubt, though, the he introduced himself to others as such.

Needless to say, the lad had to suffer quite a bit of ribbing while with the team. If he managed to give the opposing defense the slip, we could expect someone to quip, “Napasukan kayo ng Titi!”

Or, when he began to wander inside instead of staying out in the wings as he was supposed to do, “Titi! Pasok ka ng pasok sa masikip!”

All in good humor! I guess, with a nick like that, it’s not as if one has much of a choice but to take it all as just the sort of locker room humor one finds in any football team.

[This story was first published on Facebook on 8 October 2008.]

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