What to Call Me
I seem to have unintentionally caused some confusion in the last entry as to how is the proper way to address me, so in the interest of being helpful, let me attempt to clear things up:
My name is John Scalzi (actually, it’s John Michael Scalzi, II, but that’s not important now). I typically answer to “John” or “Scalzi,” and have no manifest preference to either name — which is to say I will respond equally to both. Which makes sense because both are my name. Please feel free to use either one that you prefer, when referring to or addressing me. If you wish to be formal (say, you don’t know me, or want to borrow money from me), “Mr. Scalzi” works fine. I possess no additional titles, so calling me, say, “Admiral Scalzi” will only lead to confusion.
I have noticed that in casual conversation and in casual reference, most people — even some of my closest friends — seem to address and refer to me as “Scalzi,” even when/if they are discussing other people by their first names (i.e., “we went to dinner with Paul, Jane, Joe and Scalzi”). I suspect that the reason most people use “Scalzi” rather than “John” is that a) generally speaking I’m the only Scalzi in any crowd, which makes it an easy identifier, b) “John” is opposingly generic, and c) “Scalzi” is fun to say; it seems to lend itself to all manner of dramatic methods of delivery (incidentally, I pronounce my last name “skaal – zee”).
Indeed, so pronounced is the general tendency to refer to me as “Scalzi” rather than “John” that if I’m in a crowd and the name “John” is used, I have a tendency to assume that it is being used to refer to some other John. Be that as it may, my first name is “John,” and if you feel more comfortable using “John” instead of “Scalzi,” by all means please use “John.” It’s a fine name, and I like it.
On the matter of “John,” incidentally, if you attempt to use “Johnny” in reference to me, I am not likely to respond to it, since I was never called “Johnny” at any point in my life; my family nickname when I was younger was “John-John” (yes, apparently like JFK, Jr). That nickname has since been retired by me (a 37-year-old man ought not be referred to as “John-John”) and has since been passed on to a nephew. I won’t hate you if you call me “Johnny,” although it will merely serve to accentuate the fact you don’t know me, so I’m not sure why you would want to continue using it anyway. Using “John-John” unless you’re a family member is likewise right out. “Jon” or “Jonathan” are of course entirely incorrect (that’s another name entirely). Calling me “Junior,” because I am the second John Scalzi, is not going to be successful — I was never called it as a kid and wouldn’t find it appropriate now.
On “Scalzi,” the last name itself seems to suffice just fine; I’ve not known people to shorten it in any way, nor would I be likely to respond positively to any attempt to do so. People have been known to adapt “Scalzi” as a prefix to any number of words by dropping the “i” and then jamming “Scalz” in front of any number of words, usually with an exclamation mark implied at the end (“Scalztastic!” “The Scalzinator!” “Scalztronic!” “Scalztacular!”), but these really don’t seem to be enduring sorts of nicknames but rather some sort of variation on the “banana-fofanna” school of being silly. As noted eariler, “Scalzi” is distinctive enough that there’s usually no need to embroider the name.
Possibly because “Scalzi” is distinctive enough as it is, I have no nicknames of any sort. I’m a little old to be gaining any, so unless you have Dubya-like pathological need to assert dominance over other by giving them a dimunitive name that is not their own, I’ll thank you simply to call me by my name (if you do have that sort of pathological need, I’m likely to avoid your company anyway). My wife has terms of endearment for me, but I’m not sharing those, and you wouldn’t be entitled to use them in any event. Sorry.
So, in sum: Call me “John,” call me “Scalzi,” or if you like to be formal, “Mr. Scalzi.” Whichever you are most comfortable with is fine.