Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hortence's Revenge

Throughout the centuries, names have been of great importance in denoting royalty, signifying origin, and seeing if your parents were highly medicated (or should have been) when the naming chore rolled around. Someone really should be put in charge of giving an OK on names, and this person should have a tremendous sense of humor due to some of the sillier names that linger even after the Clinton administration.

My proposal is to create a bureau of the government (thus increasing an even heavier burden on the American taxpayer) in which once a child is born, the parents have three days to come to the bureau and fill out paperwork "registering" the child’s name. These offices should be conveniently located in 7-11s and Circle Ks. (Side note: if the parents don’t come within the three days, the child’s name will immediately be "registered" as Orville, regardless of gender.) Countless numbers of clerks will shuffle the paperwork to insure the process is long and expensive. Don’t worry, you can get a burrito and a slush while you wait. Finally, it will land on the desk of the Regional Nomenclature Designation Czar (it’s all in the name, of course.) He or she will look over the paperwork, which consists of the child’s name-to-be, the names of the parents (for obvious reasons), and an essay of 50 words or less as to why they want to give their child that particular name. Having quite a sense of humor and a very haunting laugh, he/she reviews the paperwork and decides if the child is worthy of that name. For example, if the parents were trying to name their child, say, Hortence, they would most likely need to include in their essay that she kicked a lot in the womb and the labor was 75 hours long – justification. If approved, he/she simply stamps OK on the application and hands it off to Claire (an unfortunate name, to say the least) or some other clerk. Here’s where the haunting laugh enters the picture (you know, the kind that the guy living in the dorm room next to you in college had and kept you awake at night; the kind that made the nipples on your chest quiver). If the requested name is found to be truly absurd, banal, or just plain stupid, he/she personally walks over to you, throws the application in your face in the form of a paper airplane, and delivers a heart-stopping, nipple-quivering laugh. I suggest that people with pace makers and anxiety have their spouse do the filing.

With that said, parents must think about what they’re naming their child. Who cares if it’s been a tradition to name the first boy in the family Waldo since 1653, or that the name means "smarter than a carpet tack" in Armenian? If it’s a stupid name, don’t saddle your kid with that name. (Don’t even get me started on the made-up names we hear so frequently now.) They’ll go through life thinking they have "Just call me ‘dork’ and laugh at me when you meet me" written on their forehead in fluorescent yellow.

My parents chose to name me Grant. I’m told I got this name from the guy down the street. For all I know, my parents could have picked it out of a phone book or an Elks’ Lodge register – personally, I think my dad lost a bet of some sort. With a name like Grant, my adolescent years weren’t exactly easy. The cute girls (who so enjoyed teasing the little squirts such as myself) would call me names such as "Granty", or they’d all get together (and I swear they had a choreographer help them with this) and do this little swaying sort of jig as they chanted, "Grant, Grant, the big fat ant!" Some thirty years later (and myriad hours of needed therapy), those chilling words still echo in my mind. Can you imagine what it was like live? I’m not even going to go into the things people did, and still do, with my last name Greene.

I have to admit it would be tempting to play with the names of your children. In my younger days, I always thought it would be cool to name my first son "Gang", and if I had a girl, "Salad." It would be interesting to see if "The Bureau" would pass them, but I don’t think my nipples could take it.

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