Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's in a Name?

(NOTE: generates literal word pictures from your text input. It's fun!)

Names are important. They tell us something about the namee. As young parents my Dear Professor
and I took great care in the choice of appellation for our 3 children. We didn't want the little scudders to end up with a name too easily mocked. Son 2 proved himself so adept at the practice that he never called our cat the same name twice. For 15 years. (The poor thing went to its grave suffering from extreme identity confusion.) And this was the child who officially named the animal in the first place. [ed. note: Upon reading this, Principessa informed me that it was SHE who named the cat , NOT Son 2, although there are a host of other things for which he can take the blame.]

I "enjoyed" a succession of nicknames in my childhood. In elementary school it was Geronimo and Giraffe, the former being based on
alliteration with my first name, the latter on the former as well as my 3 inch growth over one summer that left me towering over everyone. (if you are as confused as I am about the use of former and latter in a sentence see this.)

There must have been a fire sale on the name Judy the year I was born because in my high school class there were at least 3 and sometimes 4 of us. It was very confusing until some doofus singled me out to have the rare privilege of being referred to by my last name. That was my first year in high school. The second year my name became Queenie, based on my "regal bearing" rather than the fact that I was a supporting character in a Frank Capra movie about gangsters in New York City (Pocketful of Miracles).

When we moved to the Frozen North, all of our first names (with the exception of our firstborn whose name was comprised of only 4 letters) were reduced to the first syllable. Regardless of what that syllable was. Why do Yankees do that? Are they in too great a hurry to use the whole name?

The TV series Lost has raised nicknaming to a new art. One of the main characters has so distinguished himself by his expertise in this field that the series website offers a Sawyer nickname generator.

But the major crisis in naming comes the day your first grandchild arrives. What do you want that wonderful bundle of preciousness to call you? For the rest of your life. In PUBLIC. My confusion and indecision ended that day Beatiful Mommy came up with a good suggestion. She had noted my signature on emails and asked why not use that? Mommo it was.

And how on earth did I end up with the one nickname I actually picked out for myself, sort of?

As a joke. Our early computer games came with a short list of high scorers named after the Marx brothers. All their names ended with "o". The rest is history.

And for the record, as any grandparent will attest, it really doesn't matter WHAT your grandchild calls you. It is enough that they call.