Monday, April 12, 2004

See Ya Later Alligator

I’ve often wondered, but still don’t know how a parent can look at a sweet, innocent baby and call them Bertha. Or Percy. Or Egbert. Or, as in the case of the Late Governor James Stephen Hogg of Texas - Ima. (But not, as so often reported Ura, Bea or Hesa.) What is it they see? What are they thinking? How did they manage to skip past Susan and Michael and David and Katherine (too pedestrian? Too ordinary?) to land on Agatha or Cecil?
(I have a similar question about colour selection, as underneath the pea green subway-style ceramic tiles on my bathroom wall, lurk the remnants of what were once blood red and powder pink wall coverings. Not crimson, or cherry, or fire engine – blooooood.)
I like the idea of finding just the right name for a person – something simple, straightforward and evocative. It’s not so easy, as I’m sure many a parent laments, but you have to wonder if some of them are even trying very hard.
My mother grew up with a boy called Webster Hairsnape. (Which just to up the ante of horror was pronounced ‘Hairsnip’.) I attended school with a Verity Cronk and my father was on very good terms with a family of Hefflefingers and a couple of men called Clare.
I myself have a name so ordinary it rivals John Smith on the goose bump meter, just edging out Jane Doe for originality; I used to hate it - I thought back then the name ‘Farrah’ was just the absolute last word in sophistication. But my appreciation knows no bounds today. In a world full of Tiffany’s, Brittney’s, Justin’s and Jason’s, my moniker actually stands out.
There are countless websites with real and urban myth weird-type names – i.e. Haywood Jablowme, Hugh G. Rection and Anita Hoare, and who knows if those handles wouldn’t be perfectly accurate reporting. But so far, I think Moe Szyslak is the only one earnestly trying to try to track down Amanda Huginkiss.
Since I don’t have children, all my baby naming skills have been wasted on ungrateful parents-to-be (if one more family turns down Madeleine…) and dogs. There’s been a Marcus, a Charlie (named for the late General DeGaulle) Pip (Great Expectations) Sadie and Chloe. Now there’s Lily – named in expectation of her sweet, quiet, gentle nature. Never have I been more mislead. Pushy, arrogant, bossy and crabby – if I knew then what I know now, I would have gone for something that ticked a lot more of the ‘Memorable’, ‘Easy to Remember’ and ‘Truth in Advertising’ boxes.
Something like the central character in the recent news story out of Australia, which details the actions of a couple of thieves who first stole, and then abandoned an alligator from a Sydney zoo. The creature they snatched turned out to be so ‘moody’ the culprits apparently decided to leave well enough alone, and dropped him off in a nearby creek where anxious zoo officials found him before (carefully) capturing him and bringing him home.
Mr. Cranky Pants is his name – and I’m just jealous someone else thought of it first.

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