[fyi- nothing in the world frightens my mother more than the idea that she will one day be immortalized as "big mama."]
our family, being southern, has done this, though to a lesser extent. we tend to use other actual names as nicknames. so people wind up with nicknames that could plausibly be their real names but aren't.
the problem with all this nicknamery is that it becomes incredibly confusing when one is dealing with more distant relatives and it tends to rear its head most noticeably in times of great tragedy.
last week, a branch of our family sustained a series of horrible, awful, brutal blows. however, because this is the branch of the family associated with my grandmother being defrauded of her family lands and, therefore, forced to move down to nowheresville mississippi at the age of 75 to live on shitty lands that are supposed to make up for our family's loss of the ancestral homestead (please note: ridiculous as this sounds, it is in no way exaggerated. DO NOT get on burvil's bad side.), i don't know this side of the family very well.
hence this conversation with my mother:
debo: yes. the boy who died was cece's son. so she lost her dad and her son in one week. poor aunt ninie.
oline: wait. i'm confused. who is cece? and is aunt ninie wilma?
debo: yes, ninie is wilma and her oldest daughter sarah is cece. so the ex-husband of wilma is ron, but he's called ray, and he's the father of ray jr (also ron), sarah (cece), and bill (danny). does that make sense to you now?