First off, I apologize for breaking my blog update promise. I would say it won’t happen again, but that would be to set myself up to do it again. Excuses are irrelevant, so let’s move on.
My friend Nancy and I on a recent camping adventure
My friend Nancy recently wrote an essay on how she got her name, Nancy, and this is what I was thinking of, specifically, when I listed this topic. My parents almost named me Naomi, but according to my mother, I came out looking more like a Crystal. My little sister’s name would have been Carissa, I was also told, but Carissa and Crystal could potentially be confusing, and so she was named Holly, having been born on December 26. No matter how they came to be, my sister and I both must like our names. The only time I remember her and I talking about our one-day children, she said she wanted to have a daughter she could name Ivy. They would be lovely complements to one another, Holly and her Ivy. I said I would like to have a daughter I could name Ruby. We’d be like two shining gems, Ruby and Crystal.
My sister, Holly, and her husband, Nick
When Todd and I talk about having kids, it mainly takes the form of a name-brainstorm, as in, “If we had a baby boy, what do you think of the name Harry?” We’ve had this conversation so many times that it now takes the form of just a name drop: “What about Carmine?” Inevitably, Todd will formulate a real banger for me to consider, something like Maris, and I have to stop him right then. “Nope. Student.” That means that it has negative connotations to some form of student-exhibited inadequacy that I can’t get over. Then he tells me our child will end up nameless because by the time we actually have a kid, I’ll have taught people with all the names. All of them!
There isn’t a limit on what you can name someone or something, though, which is the glass-half-full way of saying that there is no limit to the stupid things can use as a name, so Todd can take heart. Take the names of hip-hop artists, for example. Ice-T, P. Diddy, Notorious B.I.G., Lil Wayne, Eminem. They’re successful and are taken seriously. There are ridiculous sounding scientifically chosen names for birds (Bushtit?) and mammals (Dikdik?) and fish (Sole?), and we actually feel smarter if we can use these words properly. I looked at my new beloved orange kitty and considered calling him Sprinkles, forcing myself to say such a word with a few different emotions behind it: (Angry), Sprinkles! No!” (Looking for escape kitty) “Sprrrrinnnnnkles!” (Happy Calling), “Here, Sprinkles!” After a few similar rehearsals – okay, after about three days of similar rehearsals – we decided on Ginsberg, after the famous Beat Generation poet who wrote Howl. A name is an important thing, yes. As I admitted, we worked for days on the kitty’s name. And Todd and I are on year two of the kid discussion, so clearly we think it has value.
On occasion, I’m surprised to be remembered, by name, by a person I’ve only met once, and I feel special when it happens. I remember, then, how meaningful it is to be referred to by name, and at the same time, how threatening it can be. Your name announces that you’ve been noticed, and it holds you accountable.
At its core, I have to ask though, what difference does a name make? We all know that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. It’s funny to learn that The Rock is really named Duane (I mean, Duane?? C’mon!), but it doesn’t matter; he’s unappealing either way.
What comes to be will have a name, inevitably. It will be accountable and noticed, remembered, respected, and loved by someone. In the mean time, we anticipate these mysteries which, as of now, are nameless.
Next blog topic possibilities -- please vote via a comment below, and thanks for your input last time: Indian food, UWM, anti-gravity chairs, camping, Labradoodles