What’s in a nickname?
Foglio, by the way, is a nickname a college friend gave me after she discovered in her Italian class that the word means “leaf.” My name, Leif, is typically pronounced like “lafe” (in Sweden) or “life” (Norway and Denmark). But my parents chose the Americanized “leaf,” to make it easier for linguistically-challenged Americans to pronounce. Accordingly, I’ve suffered a lifetime of plant-based put-downs and terms of endearment.
I’ve been called much worse than foglio — leaflet, twig, branch, lettuce, hoja (Spanish for leaf), even shrub (which I gladly ceded to W). But I like the ring of foglio better than all my other vegetable monikers, especially when it’s pronounced properly in Italian — with just two syllables, as FOAL-yo — rather than the Anglicized three-syllable version I usually hear — FO-lee-o. I even chose foglio as my first handle on AOL, oh so long ago (thankfully).
It’s also the last name of a pair of excellent artists from Seattle, Phil and Kaja Foglio, who I actually encountered a few times in my college days, back in the early ’90s. The very same friend who dubbed me “Foglio” was also a close buddy of Kaja’s. In fact, she recruited Kaja to draw a caricature of me for the campaign flyers I handed out when I ran for student government at the University of Washington in ’92. I think I have a copy lying around somewhere. If I can find it I’ll scan and post it here for all to see.
Considering the Kaja connection, I guess there may have been more to my friend’s choice of the nickname than her eureka moment in an Italian class 15 years ago. Frankly, no one really calls me foglio but her, on the rare occasions that we see each other. So there you have it. You’re in on our little secret. Let’s keep it between you and me, okay?