Friday, March 19, 2010

What's In A Name?

My sister-in-law, Victoria, writes regarding her 4-year-old daughter, my good pal, Avaroo:

[Ava's Dad expressed some reservations concerning photos of Ava appearing in my blog. God knows why, as only the finest perverts of good breeding read me, but he's a nice guy and I see no reason to upset him. Therefore, here is an illustration of Ava, by MY WIFE. Ava doesn't actually have speech balloons coming out of her head, although that would be really cool.]

Anyway, Victoria says...

I was watching Ava play in her room with her toy horses, and the tan horse wanted the pink-purple-silver horse to come to the pasture. She refused, so the tan horse said, "Why do you have to be so obstinate?"

I asked Ava what that means, and she said, "It means Sparkly refuses to go along with what Brownie wants to do."

I have no idea how she knows that word. I hope she wasn't being obstinate at school.

She's not very creative with the animal names, though.

That's a good meaty word for someone her age, and I'd prefer to think that her vocabulary has been strengthened via spending time with her Uncle Jim, although that's probably not the case (and, considering some of the words she could have picked up from me, probably for the best.) As for coming up with simple names for things, I think that trait runs in her family. I remember when MY WIFE and I had Alyssa, Ava's older sister, doing an overnight at our place. We had cereal in the morning, and the box featured a big blue parrot on the front. The cereal company was having a contest to name this parrot. I asked Alyssa what she thought the parrot's name should be. After giving it careful consideration, she said the parrot's name should be "Bluey". Needless to say, we didn't fill out the entry form. On another occasion, we gifted Alyssa with a green plush stuffed snake, a prize won at a carnival game. No, she didn't name it "Greeny". She named it "Snakey" (which was also the name of my bookie, so it was especially odd for me. However, I digress.)

(By the way, I'm never sure if I spell 'Alyssa' correctly. It has nothing to do with my fondness for her, which is considerable. I'm just crummy when it comes to remembering how to spell names. It would have been easier if her mother named her "Girly". What the heck. Helen Brown's mother did.)

I will never belittle anyone too much for doling out simple names because I'm not entirely innocent of the charge myself. My childhood cat, my favorite of all-time, was named Blackie. This was despite her being a striped tabby.

Whenever MY WIFE sees a picture of Blackie, she laughs and says something to the effect of, "Blackie?!? That cat isn't black!" All I can say, in my defense, is that Blackie sure looked black when she was born, what with all of the amniotic fluid and gunk. What she looked like after I named her was not my fault. I could have changed her name, I suppose, but why confuse a cat unnecessarily?

With less lively things than cats, my choice of names has also been suspect. For instance, among our way-too-many teddy bears, we have two from my childhood, Big Pinky and Little Pinky. As you might imagine, one is bigger than the other and they are both pink. Or they used to be. Now they're a sort of beige with pink highlights. MY WIFE calls them Big Stinky and Little Stinky.

Also from the bears - and, if you're thinking of giving us one as a gift, we have more than enough, so don't - we have this fellow, a gift from my softball teammate, Big Jay Atton.

Big Jay is a faithful reader, and he was especially taken with my story of when MY WIFE dyed our applesauce green. Therefore, the bear's name is, yes, Applesauce.

Further down on the evolutionary scale, we have these two, also gifts from Big Jay.

He gave us these in response to another post about teddy bears, I believe. I asked him what their names were. He said, "Sul and Dog."

(I don't know what it is with Big Jay and teddy bears, but he doesn't question my manhood, so I won't question his, especially since he's 6' 7" and weighs about as much as your average grizzly bear. Here's a picture of him. MY WIFE would have drawn one, like she did with Avaroo, but every time she tried her pencil broke.)

I could make fun of MY WIFE's ability to name things creatively, except she does name things creatively. Some of the names she has bestowed on our bears are as follows:

(Sheesh, I am truly the world's worst photographer. I can't even get good shots of teddy bears. Anyway...)

Ditka (who is, of course, The Coach)

Gilbert (use the French-Canadian pronunciation)


Madame Bovary (his girlfriend)

Brockett (As you can see, he's a chef. If you're familiar with the Mister Rogers cast of characters...)

Lock O'Bear (you have to be familiar with Boston restaurants to get this one.)

and then, of course, there's Bearkind (which name takes a familiarity with professional wrestler Mick Foley to understand. Foley portrayed a character named Mankind, who looked like... well, here are photos of both he and Bearkind.)

Oh! And here's Bi.

(Bi. Get it? He's a polar bear? Well, if you don't get it, I don't want you as a reader anymore. He's Bi-Polar! Hah!)

There are stories to go with every one of our bears (as well as more Avaroo stories, and even more Big Jay Atton stories) but this is easily long enough for me to not feel guilty about quitting now, so that's what I'm going to do.

Soon, with more bearter stuff.


Jazz said...

If ever I go down to Boston, I'll bring you a French teddy bear I will.

lime said...

lol, i love avaroo's nickname. and her vocabulary rocks, even if her naming of things doesn't.

i always said if i were inclined to have a dog (which i am not) i'd want to name it "quat" just so i could say , "Come, quat! here boy!"

Michelle H. said...

I had a cat named Rabbit.

Hey, he was a Manx with a stub of a tail and sometimes hopped on his back legs. There are times when names don't make sense at first, but also do make perfect sense.

Hope this comment made sense?

Eric said...

I'm terrible at coming up with names on my writing. I still haven't named my current WiP. Maybe it's a family trait? My uncle named his dog Deogee (D.O.G.). Not kidding. Anyway, I like your last example best, the polar bear. Hilarious.

GreenJello said...

Photography tip: push the button down halfway before pushing it all the way so your auto focus feature has a chance to focus. :)

My Pooh bear growing up was named "Pooh", and my Raggedy Ann doll was called "Raggedy Ann" and my sock monkey was called "Monkey". No points for creativity for me.

My oldest daughter named her Cabbage Patch doll "Chumberly". Points for her!

Anonymous said...

That was a treat, Jim, and sorely needed.

Had a cat named Hitler during the war. Poor thing was black and white and had a perfect black square under his nose. Neighbours soon got used to hearing me call 'Hitler, here boy!'

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that Eric is no relation?

veri word is :winge. As if!

Suldog said...

Green Jello - Thanks! That may be the very tip I needed. I have (or maybe now, had) absolutely no idea why some of my photos were blurry while others with all of the same settings and such were sharp.

Hilary said...

I love YOUR WIFE's creative bear-naming. I've always avoided giving critters human names (I wasn't the one who named Benny) but some names just work - particularly those you just wouldn't name a child.

Ava's comment reminded me of one my son said when he was about four. He was being fairly argumentative (a trait he still possesses) and when I pointed this out to him he told me "I'm not arguing. I'm negotiating so we can compromise." He won!

44 said...

I remember when my cousin pat was 4 his father got his mom a kitten pat grandma asked pat to name it and pat said "patrick kitty" well it got called lassie either way tell apple sauce sul and dog I said hi

Daryl said...

Oh bear with me here .. I totally like totally laughed out loud twice .. twice .. I would give you an award for making me laugh out loud the most times but I know how much you love awards ... an unbearable amount .. heh ... LOVED Bi .. and Ditka ..

And the WV today? exingb .. I believe that bears explanation . exing b .. crossing out the b .. silly

CiCi said...

You have a lot of bears at your house. Your wife did a great job with the drawing. I have to agree with your wife with the laugh about "Blackie". Ha!

Chris said...

Okay, enough teddy bear crap. When does softball season start so we can read "The Further Adventures of Cam Zirpolo"?

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

I really don't have any idea why people name cats. The darn things don't come when you call them, anyway.
Blackie was the name of a golden retriever who lived on my paper route back in the day. I never did learn why he was called Blackie.

Suldog said...

Knucklehead - Official first scrimmage is March 28th. I think we'll be playing in sweaters and long johns, but we'll see.

Jeni said...

After reading your remark about Helen Brown's mother naming her "Girly" I realized I hadn't had enough coffee yet today because it took me a few seconds before the "Girly" part registered with me. LOL but groaning over that one. "Bi" for the Polar Bear -okay I was awake enough to catch that one.
Loved this post though, overall.

Unknown said...

You were right not to change the name; there's nothing worse than a confused cat!

Jackie said...

I am the testing coordinator for gifted education in our county. I'm not selling anything...this is not spam. I'm here to say this:
Ava's use of the word 'obstinate' (especially at her age) is a wonderful indicator of a potentially gifted child. I'm more than impressed. And...creativity is another indicator...She seems to 'fit the mold.'
And....I have my son's Teddy Bear (my son will be 34 this year) and it looks much like the smaller of the two you posted together (big one and little one)....and I got misty-eyed. Why? It's what Mama's do.
I love your bears. I love your blog...
Blessings and love to you, Jim.
P.S. We had a dog named Bear.
One day, we're going to get a bear and name him "Dog."

Suldog said...

Jackie - I hope you see this. Thanks so much for the encouragement concerning Ava. I think she is quite bright. I had some doubts earlier in her life, because she was not as verbal as I would have expected, but now? I agree. She's quite clever and smart.

By the way, I seem to have lost the info for getting to your blog. Would you be kind enough to send it my way once again? Thanks!

Connie/mom said...

You did pretty well in the vocabulary category.

I'm sure you remember the story I've told many times about you, at the age of 3 or 4, reprimanding your little playmates for not using the proper words for "pee" and "poo", which your aunt insisted you should use at all times.
Also, I remember well the Ring-bear-er at your wedding.

Buck said...

Heh. Flaubert and Madame Bovary. Double-heh. Just TOO freakin' cool, that one.

wv: prout. We could have hit the Frog-literary-trifecta for want of an "s." OK. I'll quit now.

Anonymous said...

Your wife is a very good artist. We have had a few Tigger's. We also had a Blackie. The best cat ever! Our cat that we have now is Gabby. A little more creative. :)

Karen said...

We grew up in Mattapoisett. My folks had friends in Boston that would visit us during the summer. They had five children... all of them with dark hair except one who was blonde. My folks would joke with them about the "mailman's daughter" referring to the only blonde in the bunch. Once our cat had a litter of kittens, there were something like four black kittens and one tan kitten. I gave them all names like Jewel, Blackie, etc., and I named the tan one "Ling". When my folks asked me why I named him Ling, I told them that this was the only one who didn't look like the others, so I named him after Ling (our milkman). I had no idea what it *really* meant, but I knew that if somebody was different, you must somehow be related to the milkman! Ha!

The Good Cook said...

I could bearly get through this post without laughing so hard tears were sprouting out. My dogs name is Holly Bear because I got her at Christmas. Get it, Xmas, holly... and she looked like a teddy bear when we got her. You have quite a collection there - and no, I'm not questioning your manhood.

But really, blackie?

Sarah said...

I have a penchant for naming my pets with people names. Dianne, Frank, Gus. My stuffed animals? Well, right now I've got a stuffed alligator who goes by the inspired moniker "Mr. Chompy" and his best friend, a walrus, is christened "Mr. Tusks".

Sniffles and Smiles said...

As a child, I had a favorite stuffed animal that was a dalmatian...I named him Spot. So, there you go. Apparently, you don't have to come up with clever names in order to be graduate school material...ROFL... Avaroo is a star!!! Loved this post...and even your blurry bears ;-) Hugs, Janine

Ananda girl said...

It doesn't matter the subject, you always make me laugh.

I had a giant carnival bear named "Ours" pronounced "oooh-ers".

That Avaroo is one smart little cookie!

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I read the parts about naming animals and immediately thought of this. Worse, then I thought of the sound it makes when coughing up a hairball. "Ack!"

vw = piduc would be a good name for a pet clam.

Char said...

A good friend of mine had a cat that was just plain weird. She would look at you and turn her head almost 360*. She named her
Abby Normal. cute, huh?

(BTW~that cat gave me the creeps.)

Angela Christensen said...

Well, if we ever need to give you a present we can all go in on a giant stuffed bear and think of the funniest name EVER and be in like Flynn with you. I, too, love Ava's nickname, and have to share this brief story of kids naming thing with you, noting that you brought this on yourself with your comment on my Dog Post last night. When we acquired (note the use of that verb; it was wholly involuntary) our first rescued Boxer, our kids were really small. She came to us with the name "Sheba", which for various reasons I thought was dumb. So I asked my son McCaffrey, now serving you in the U.S. Navy, what he thought a good name might be for Sheba. After all, she was ours now, and we could name her whatever we liked. He was about 3 years old. He considered carefully, and after a few minutes said, "I think a good name for Sheba would be....Sheba."
And that was that. Love to you, the bears, and YOUR WIFE.
Angie at Eat Here

Sueann said...

I am definitely not questioning your manhood...your sanity yes..but not your manhood!!
The bear names are quite unique and I go Bi right away. LOL!!

i beati said...

I love names . My dog that passed this summer short of 24 years was Petrille, and I have now Chiara, Pharoah, Gingy, Zvi and Zarah. Let's face it it's what the name says for you. In school I was Swittle , Swivel hips, and Snoz(explanations Roman Nose , majorette and a poor attempt at my maiden name Swingle for Zvengli)

Unknown said...

You definitely should have filled out the entry form, Bluey is as good a name for a parrot as Tony is for a tiger. You shouldn't have been so obstinate.

And I must you have one named Colbert (in the French pronounciation)?

Land of shimp said...

Excellent naming abilities, I think.

I have never named my incredibly weird cat, but that has more to do with how peculiar he is. It seems to anger him when we attempt to call him by any name, and he's already made great strides in destroying every home we've ever lived in, so he goes by titles, such as "Death from Above" and other such adorable monikers.

My parents were the King and Queen of weird pet names. My mother had a black cat name Walpurgis, which is about as straightforward a name as she ever bestowed upon an animal.

In no particular order we had a cat name Annalivia Plurabell, a dachshund named Hugh Dove O'Neill (or possibly O'Neal, he was named for some figure from Irish history...whose story I have long since forgotten), three black kittens from the same litter became "Wink'em Blink'em and Nod".

My parents erred on the side of pretension when it came to animal names.

So I like a straightforward name when it comes to animals, and things. Ones that don't require an explanation of this length.

To this day I don't know where the name Annalivia Plurabell came from, and although my mother is still around to ask, I'm afraid the answer would make me want to beat my head against a wall.

Pet naming rule: if the answer to "Why did you name him that?" is actually, "I'm trying to impress people with how well read I am." then perhaps you should think again, and go with Fuzzy for all manner of creatures.

My mother's last dog was named Lingus after the Irish airline, Aer Lingus (my mother is, oddly enough, Scottish) and she called him Lingus.

Yes, I know. Argh. She had him when I was a teenager, and the number of jokes that poor little poodle endured was substantial.

That was thankfully her last pet. Needless to say, I'm rather a big fan of the "that makes perfect sense" name for animals. Fuzzy? Fluffy? Socks? Ripper? Bingo?


But I did meet someone who had named their rather large dog, "Atticus Herodes (Herodes Atticus" for a legate at the trial of Christ.

He was a mean dog, go figure.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I was just thinking yesterday about how when we were kids we'd name our animals by putting "ey" or "y" or "ie" at the end of something ... *laughing*

But what's funny is sometimes the names were so elaborate going from "blackie" to "poodooleeaboomadydoo"

and LAUGHING! at the bi name ...haw!

Ruth and Glen said...

Can remember reading about Avaroo and seeing her picture. That drawing is excellent. YOUR WIFE is quite talented. Also, quite creative with the names she came up with for some of the bears. :o)

Suldog said...

Jenn - No. We do not yet have a Colbert. It's as good a suggestion as I've heard, though, so if we get another one - which we are NOT asking for, please! - that name will be given high consideration.

Suldog said...

Shimp - "Death From Above"


For The Win!!!