My friend Alan just posted an article in his blog on the challenges faced by those who go by their middle names. His article reminded me of a fairly common tradition among some in the Air Force (mostly fighter pilot) to go by "callsigns." Now, if you've seen "Top Gun" you know about callsigns. "Maverick," "Goose," "Iceman," are world-renowned callsigns--that's why you'd never see anything like that in the Air Force. Fighter pilot friends of mine let me into their world (only briefly, mind you) to explain a few of the callsign rules. To boil it all down, a callsign should poke fun at some character flaw or physical trait of the person with the callsign. My brother-in-law's callsign is "Pokey." If you knew him you'd know that is a perfect callsign. I love him to death, but that man is so slow; we're always waiting on him. Another personal favorite of mine was the callsign "Worm" given to a guy who, frankly, could pass for a girl if he had long hair. "Woman OR Man," thus the callsign "Worm." Others I've heard of were "Pyro," "Screamin'," "Wrut-row," and "Rock." While this last one seems a break with the "disparaging" rule-of-thumb, this name was a play on the man's last name...Bottomlee. Pretty funny. He's a good man, by the way, and takes it all in stride, as most do. If you don't, the creative juices really start flowing resulting in a name much, much worse than the first.
So, taking these basic callsign rules into account, let's revisit "Top Gun" and consider for a moment what callsigns these characters more likely would have had. Tom Cruise's character "Maverick" would probably have been called "Sweaty"--the man sweated through the whole movie. The "Iceman" character would probably have been named "Flamer." The locker room scenes still make me a little uncomfortable. "Goose?" I'm drawing a blank.