“Call me CoCo. Everybody does.”
These were the words that sealed my fate. I wrote them in an email to my colleagues in Vietnam before starting work here. I was on a high, having found myself a gentleman friend in Ljubljana. Nothing was too difficult for me. I had gone to a nudist resort. I was about to hand in my PhD. I was moving to a new continent. What better time to start afresh? What could possibly go wrong?
It hasn’t been that big a deal so far. I haven’t been interacting with that many people on a day-to-day basis. But on Monday my first teacher training course started. I have a colleague, who has flown from the US to work on the course with me. She’s a sensible Catholic middle-aged woman from Louisiana. And she calls me CoCo.
There are twelve trainee teachers on the course: one Australian woman in her 50s, two American men in their 50s, an American woman in her 30s, a British woman in her 30s, 2 Irish lads in their 20s, one American guy and one English guy in their 20s, a Filipino woman in her 20s, a Vietnamese woman in her 20s and an Australian guy in his 20s. They all call me CoCo. Occasionally, the Irish guys and the English guy call me “Connor”. They can’t get their heads around my name being CoCo. But all 12 of them have called me CoCo. All twelve of them. I also taught a demonstration lesson to a group of Vietnamese students while the trainee teachers watched. A group of fourteen Vietnamese adults called me CoCo.
I am CoCo.
But I’m also not CoCo.
I feel I don’t live up to the name. I don’t sparkle enough. I don’t twinkle enough. Not enough drama. Not enough camp. Not enough gossip and jazz hands and tinsel.
But at the same time, I smile a little smile inside every time someone calls me CoCo, whether it’s a lad from the midlands of Ireland or a lady from Australia, and it shoots a glittery arrow of possibility up my spine.
I might not live up to that possibility, but it’s amazing to think that I could.