I have a cousin, he has a proper name and all, and he's all grown up now, but everytime I see him, I never fail to embarrass him by calling him "Ah Boy". It pretty much sends him back to being 12 and covered in snot. Best thing is, we went to the same university, so imagine him walking along the foyer, all popular and hip, girlfriend in hand, surrounded by groupies. Then somewhere from far behind him, someone shouts, "AH BOY!!!!!" Oh I truly enjoyed the pure embarrassment on his face as he turned to acknowledge me. If I were him, I would have just ignored me and ran the hell out of there, but he's a nice guy and all, and he wouldn't bully his cousin this way. I think this is the mildest nickname of all, albeit a little childish.
Then there's my neighbour, Kevin. We grew up together, buddies and all, and we used to call him "Ang Tua". It's Hainanese for leader or something, except that somehow, the term brings to my mind the image of a turtle. I blame him for it. A more degrading nickname for him was "Mong Kang", which meant something like fool in Hainanese. I still occasionally call him that. Why all the Hainanese nicknames? Because he's Hainanese.
One of the best nicknames for another childhood friend would be "Or Too", which means Black Pig. Why? Because he used to be chubby (think he still is), and he has a very dark complexion. Until today, I still think of him as Or Too, although I have since discovered that his real name is Kenny. He's getting married too, I think. Wonder what his wife would think if she found out his husband used to go by the name Or Too.
And my list of childhood nicknames: "Kau Ka Cheng," which sorta means little destroyer. Then there's "Ito Tan," 'ito" meaning to play, because I didn't really like going to school and all, preferring to play with Ang Tua and my toys. "Junior," which Ang Tua used to call me because I think he had a problem pronouncing his Ls. And, probably the most embarrasing one, "Ah Gu," which means cow, because I was born in the year of the ox. Sometimes accompanied by a low moo-ing. Most used by Or Too, I suspect in revenge for calling him a pig. A black one, at that.