Nicknames, Nuptials and Neighbors – The Tito Chronicles Part 1

This is Part 1 of my adventures with my friend, Courtney “Tito” Halowell. These short stories I will be sharing with you are just a small crack on the surface of what we experienced as well as what he meant in my life. SoCalCustoms.com has grown exponentially over the last 11 years while I grew as a Photographer and Writer. Courtney helped me with both of those things over the last decade but I also believe he showed me how to be a better man which translates to being a better Husband, Father and Friend.

Without further explanation, we begin, The Tito Chronicles.

Nicknames

There was a short time in my life where I thought I wanted to actually work hands-on in the automotive industry. I quit my job at the Huntington Beach YMCA where I was organizing the Youth Sports Programs for 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12 year olds. I took a job at Roush Performance with my good friend Jeff Davy. The job did not last long and to be quite honest, I wasn’t cut out for hard labor. During the time I was there I received, well, probably earned, the nickname “BOBO”. As with a lot of goofy nicknames that are handed out, I wasn’t particularly fond of being called BOBO and I made it very clear I didn’t like it. That was undoubtedly the worst thing I could have done.

A few outings with Courtney and Jeff after I complained were enough to make me glad that BOBO was what they wanted to call me. Every phone call I made to Courtney resulted in a new nickname ending in “O”. Every time I stopped by Courtney’s workplace to drop off photos, or cruised over to Jeff’s shop Devious Customs which he had just started after leaving Roush, I would get called another horrible nickname that sounded somewhat familiar to BOBO. The list is long and monotonous but Courtney especially with his infinite creativity was calling me Gordo, Colombo, Dodo, Frodo, Momo, as well as his personal favorites, GUMBO and COMBO among may others. None of them made sense, none of them had a story behind the meaning, none of them were endearing but all of them made me appreciate BOBO a little more each day. I finally gave in and there is a very small group of friends I have this nickname with.

This was one of Courtney’s gifts. He gave people nicknames and they stuck forever. Many of them are funny, ridiculous, or downright insane but there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people out there that have been given nicknames by Courtney or have learned to appreciate their given nicknames just like I have.

Nuptials

So there I am, April 2003 and about to get married in just a couple of weeks. With 2 of my 3 groomsmen living out-of-state there were no real plans for a bachelor party. My Wife-to-be is in Las Vegas with her Bridesmaids having a good time. My doorbell rings and a few friends are standing on my porch to take me out for some good times. I am not a drinker so here I am being picked up for my own bachelor party and they inform me that I am the designated driver! We pack 6 guys into my 5-seat Tahoe and we’re off on an adventure.

So Tito, Kevin “The Captain”, Billy, Rigo, and my lone Groomsmen that lives in California, Jeff Davy start out at a small Gentleman’s Club in Anaheim where they are flagging down every “dancer” to come over and introduce themselves to the bachelor of the night, me. After a few quick congratulations from the various ladies Tito is convinced he saw one that looked eerily similar to actress Lori Loughlin who starred in Full House as well as a favorite movie Tito and I shared, Rad. He approaches me with an ultimatum, get a “dance” from her immediately or he will pick another dancer I surely am not going to be attracted to. I was young and shy but needless to say just minutes later I was sitting on a couch with this look-alike gyrating in front of me. I can never watch Rad without remembering that night.

Courtney attended my Wedding a couple weeks later and I introduced him to my family including my Mom who had heard many stories about my adventures with him to that point. She knew he was someone I had looked up to before ever meeting him because of his various articles and photography that made me want to start this website. I was now his friend and he hugged her like he had known her for years. With both of them now gone, I can only hope they’ll cross paths again on the other side or another life.

Neighbors

For just over 2 years, I lived a couple streets away from Courtney. This was fairly soon after I had met him and I was still in awe that he treated me as an equal but he always had an open-door policy for friends to drop by and hang out. If he wasn’t out shooting features, tech articles, wrenching on one of his various projects at a shop, or out of town at some show, he could be found in his living room or driveway. We would often come across each other driving around the area or shopping at a local store and he would tell me to come by whenever I wanted. So I started checking in on him once in a while and we’d just watch TV most of the time. We had a few shows and movies in common but one channel in particular caught me a bit off guard.

I knocked on the screen door, he shouted for me to come in and I sat down on the couch. We started talking and just catching up on what had been going on recently and where he had just gotten back from. You see, Courtney was always on a plane going to or coming from some car show, in some City, in some State and seeing some people he knew all across the nation. How he kept track of all of those people, I’ll never know. I had been sitting there for close to 20 minutes when I realized he was watching the Spanish language station this whole time. I asked him if he had any clue what they were saying and his reply was “some of it”. So I further questioned why he had left it on that channel and his honest response was that the women on that channel are gorgeous! I laughed uncontrollably at the thought of him sitting in his living room watching something he didn’t completely understand because the beautiful women were better to watch than the other stations that broadcast in English. Have you ever watched Telemundo? The women really are stunning. I learned that from Tito.

Another time, I received a call that he needed me to help him get his Pre-Runner Chevrolet Silverado over to Robby Gordon’s shop to drop it off for some work they would be doing to it. I went over to his place in my Tahoe, followed him to Robby’s shop and dropped off the truck. We stopped for some food on the way back and I found another thing that we had in common. We were both big guys and our love of food could only be measured on a grand scale. Over the years I spent a lot of time at various Barbecue, Seafood, Breakfast, Mexican, Asian, and other restaurants with him. There was no plate too big, no meat too saucy, no meal that we couldn’t tackle. He also gave me the best food advice I’ll ever receive, “never fry bacon naked” he said. As you can imagine, the thought of bacon popping in a skillet and him in his kitchen naked learning that life lesson the hard way makes me very glad I always knocked before entering his house.

Apparently, his keen sense of smell was another talent he was blessed with. We were at his house and headed off somewhere and Courtney made the astute observation that he smelled something. He asked if I was wearing cologne. I replied that I wasn’t and never did but still he persisted. I had just showered, gotten dressed and gone over to his place to get wherever it is we were going so I knew I didn’t smell bad. He gleefully blurted out that it smelled like “hamster cage”. As I laughed it off curiously I wondered what that even meant. He said I smelled like cedar chips from a hamster cage. It wasn’t the detergent that was used on my clothes. It wasn’t any kind of hair product or lotion. The only product we could narrow it down to was the scented deodorant I was wearing! I guess this sense of smell was only a talent he used to make people laugh because surely enough he had to mention it to my Wife and several other friends that day and in the following weeks. I have since switched brands of underarm products but even years later I wonder what else he smelled around us that he never made mention of.

I hope you enjoyed this round of The Tito Chronicles. I could keep this going all day. As I sat here typing these I was already beginning to put together other stories in my mind that these stories reminded me of. He would keep writing and he would tell me to keep writing at this point so I will but I will have to share those stories with you in the near future.

For now, keep your friends and family close, let them now you’re there for them and share your experiences with others.

The account is set up through Wells Fargo. There are several ways to go about donating.

  1. Send a check to Devious Customs at 6942 Ed Perkic St Unit G Riverside CA 92504 make payable to Courtney Halowell.
  2. Walk into any Wells Fargo and give them his name and account no. 9271103518
  3. You can do a wire transfer from any bank. There is a fee for wire transfer.

These donations are for the family to help with the costs of funeral expenses of Courtney Hallowell.