Name Responsibly (Weekly Writing Challenge)
(The Daily Post is your friend. Use it! Especially the Weekly Writing Challenge)
“Lover of horses who walks through purple meadows.”
Sounds a little maddening, oui? Like a retired man that is so rich that he can spend his days riding through the great American countryside with nary a care and a mighty steed at his beckoning. Really though, it’s just a name.
Philip (With one ‘l’ you consonant happy loons! Aaah!), in the original Greek, means lover of horses. This is unkind in today’s society. “Oh, you love horses, huh? <snicker> Do you really loooooove them?” Sigh.
For the record, I think horses are just fine. But we maintain our distance, thanks. Darn tabloids.
Over the years Philip has been shortened to plain, “loving”, which is fine by me. Lyman is the rather odd, middle name. A former pastor’s wife delved into it with her book of names. She was quite excited. “Lyman? I have never heard that before. Let me look it up!” He who walks through purple meadows; that is the definition she told me. To this day I question my parents’ lack of research.
Also, there is no one in the world named Lyman. No. One. The only exception I have found is in the world of cartoons. Before Jon Arbuckle officially adopts Odie into the Garfield clan, Odie has another owner. Jon’s friend, the dog-adopter; his name is Lyman. That is it. There are no other Lymans out there, either real or fictional.
As if one set of names was not enough, the parents had a nickname for each of us. One was Pumpkin, one was Sweetie, and one was Sweet Pea. (I think, I was a teenager when I was told this so I automatically glazed over historical matters. Oh please; you did it too.) Apparently I was the one that got Sweet Pea. Personally, I do not remember ever being called that name.
Of course, there are names given to us by others. They do not think that legal names are quite as fun so they shorten it down. Philip becomes Phil, which does not bother me at all. But, in some evil game of word play, once in a while someone will break out Philly. Ugh.
I am not a female horse (darn you, Greek scribes!), a cream cheese, or a type of cheese steak. Naturally, that did not stop my best friend and her boyfriend from giving me the nick name, Pony Boy. She is still my best friend (most days). She is family. She can use it. Nobody else.
Then, just as I was entrenching myself in the world of drama, I became Foobie (or Foobster). It was my e-mail for decades. Why? I was told that I was “so FUBAR”. (Look it up. I am trying to keep this PG.) Happily, my parents never decoded that origin. (Hey, they did not bother with my middle name, why start now?)
As I entered the work world, my name changed again. To be more accurate, it shifted. My boss’s name was also Philip. We worked across six acres so we mostly communicated over walkie talkie. The inherent problem became one of identification. When a third party got involved, they would squawk, “Is Phil online?” We tried calling the boss Phil and me Philip, but it did not always work. Therefore, since I was the underling and he was the boss, I was called by my last name. When you called for Phil or Philip, you would get him.
Four years later, my boss is gone and I am still at the job. It confuses folks. Half of them call me by my first name and half by my last name. Sometimes they do not even know why, it is just how their coworkers have introduced me. However, until a family member comes and works with me, it seems to work.
Yes, over the years I have had a fair share of names. In the end, I think I can handle what I have been saddled with. (That horse pun was thrown in for free to prove I am not bitter. Well, not entirely bitter.) Seeing what names can do, I take my responsibilities seriously. That is why the first cat I adopted was named Babs. What better role model than Barbara Gordon, a.k.a., Batgirl?
When I moved into my own place, my boss Phil was looking for someone to take a cat off his hands. She was only 6 months old and I wanted a cat, so I offered. She was one of two cats. Her sibling’s name was Stinky-Winky. The cat I was offered was named Kinky-Winky. (My boss and his roommate thought Tellatubbies were hilarious. I did not.) I invoked the right to change her name. I had to spay her, so I was going to rename her, darn it. No cat in my home would have the nickname of Kinky. So, she became Mylar.
Why? Because that is the kind of plastic they put expensive comic books in. And if I adopt another cat, their name will be polypropylene; or Polly for short. It is also a type of plastic to keep comics in. (Plus, I think it would be delightful to call out, “Here Polly”, and see the look on peoples’ faces when a cat comes, not a parrot.)
I have friends who swear they are going to name their kids Gaylord. I have heard a child called Satyrial. I know there are folks out there named Kal-El and Optimus Prime. (Not even I am that nerdy. But I would fight for Wally or Clark.) 😉 What I am trying to invoke here is a need to name things responsibly. Or maybe you are trying to prepare your kids for the cruel world. If that is the case, then Johnny Cash and I wish you well.