Moving in a world where everyone is on a first name basis is one thing; the same world where nobody has a last name is something else. In my world of AA, where we introduce ourselves by our first names only, many have acquired identifying nicknames.

Some of these are geographical as most of us started out somewhere else. Florida is very much like New York City; few residents seem to have been born here, they moved from somewhere else. Of course, alcoholics tend to take "geographical cures". If something isn't going well, we move. I've lived in quite a few spots on the globe myself, both before and after I got sober.

In my home group we have Michigan Mike and Connecticut Jane, Mary-from-Houston and California Dick. I am known as French Kay. There is one other Kay, a sweet, frail lady in her late 70's. Tiny to start with, she's shrunk over the years and is rightly called Little Kay.

Mary-with-the-big-eyes is a very pretty woman whose eyes bulge slightly due to a thyroid condition; we had to call her something to differentiate her from "the other Mary". We have Tootsie who really does look like Dustin Hoffman in drag. And there is Hollywood, always jetting off for the weekend in her husband's private plane.

Some are rich and some are poor. Cadillac Bob changes his car every year. Bicycle Dave has never been able to stay sober long enough to get his driver's license reinstated, let alone acquire enough cash for a third-hand jalopy.

Besides Cadillac Bob, our group has several other Roberts. There is Bohunk Bob whose father ran a bar in a tough part of South Chicago, Kentucky Bob (born in Michigan where his Daddy worked in the auto plant, but really from the hills), Bob Connor ("whoever knows my last name knows I'm an alcoholic"), and Cape Canaveral Bob who does something hush-hush with spacecraft.

Let's see, who else? Well, there's Elbow Tom, the doyen of the group. A retired government official, he got his moniker when he started wearing an Ace bandage for a tennis elbow. Another respected oldster is "Abraham Lincoln" Dick; he emphasizes his tall, lean resemblance with a spade-shaped beard.

Some are know by their occupation  :  Nurse Linda and Real Estate Linda, Painter Mike and Computer Sam, Doctor Jim and Wal-Mart Joe, Photographer Dave and Bartender Patti.

No Drinka John got his name from a story he tells about calling an Intergroup office somewhere in Europe and the only reply he had from the person answering the phone was "No drinka". It took a while for New York Jane to accept the way we do things in Florida; at first she pissed everybody off by saying, "That's not how we do it in New York."

Walter, entering his third year of sobriety, is also known as Frequent Flyer. A walking encyclopedia on fine wines, he is an account executive for a software system firm. Between appointments where he wines and dines his clients to a fare-thee-well, he can be found at 10,000 feet, turning down the free booze in Business Class.

Daytona Doug looks like a bleach-blond beach bum, which is what he was before getting sober and becoming a treatment counselor. Shrimper John worked for Big Blue in a suit and tie until he went off the track. He bummed around South America for a couple of years and eventually found himself crewing on a Mexican shrimp boat in the Gulf. Coming up on twenty years sober, today he builds web sites for a living.

Fiberglass Phil was asked by the Boston police to turn in his gun and badge after ten years on the force. Now he installs decks on sailboats. John A., driver of a big orange dump truck, is also known as John Sweetheart. This is not because all the women get excited about him (which they do), but because he is such a kind, thoughtful person. Divorced when he was sober four years, (his wife resented losing her drinking buddy), he won custody of their three Persian cats.

This all sounds very much like a Damon Runyon cast of characters. But, aside from Daytona Doug, nobody actually identifies himself by his nickname. It is simply how we refer to each other among ourselves. Kind of a family thing.