Tag Archives: names

1939. To die alphabetically

Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund’s doctor had given him bad news. He had not been feeling well and was not at all surprised when the doctor announced (in a kindly and tender manner) that what Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund had was terminal.

“Oh well,” shrugged Jerome, “we all eventually get our marching orders I suppose.”

He went home and within a week had become obsessed with the death notices in the morning paper. Here was a list of those who had died – usually the day before. Jerome began to work out each morning where his name would go alphabetically if he had indeed passed away on the preceding day.

Amor
Austin
Baird
Burgin
Cain

If he had died his name would appear between Baird and Burgin.

Ackerley
Alexander
Batwell
Blayney
Blight

If he had died his name would appear between Alexander and Batwell.

And there, on the third day, BARBARICH-ASKELUND! There it was in print! In black and white! What a mystery!

Anderson
Atherfold
Aycock
BARBARICH-ASKELUND
Butt

“As far as I know,” said Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund, “we are the only ones in the country with this family name. It’s a complete bafflement. I’m in a state of stupefaction.”

After two weeks, Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund’s friend, Gloria Wiggins said, “Look Myrtle-Bianca, you have to admit that he’s been dead for two weeks now. You can’t go on pretending it didn’t happen. “

“Oh Gloria!” sobbed Myrtle-Bianca Barbarich-Askelund, “to die is one thing. To appear in print between Aycock and Butt is shocking. Jerome will never forgive me.”

1913. Lovey

Bradley’s father had always shortened Bradley’s name to Brad, but some of his friends called him Wolfie. No one seemed to remember how the name of Wolfie originated. Bradley’s wife called him Hector, and no one knew why for that either.

Wolfie’s wife’s name was Cassandra, although her parents had always called her Cassie. Her nickname was Sugarlips, and Hector called her Sandy which was short for Sandwich because once at work Brad had forgotten to bring his wallet and his lunch and Sugarlips had shared a sandwich. That was how Cassie and Wolfie met.

Anyone not familiar with this family would think that there were six or seven people, but there were only two – Brad and Cassie. Wolfie and Sandy had wanted to start a family but with little success.

“It appears there’s no hope,” said Sugarlips to Hector. So Bradley and Cassandra took themselves off to the clinic. Before you knew it, Sandy was “in the family way”, and as often happens it was a multiple birth: triplets. Cassie and Wolfie had spent hours talking about what names to give them. They didn’t want multiplicity of nomenclature such as they had because it was sometimes confusing, so Bradley and Cassandra named them simply Jack, Bill, and Pete.

It was not a good plan because they were all girls. “We wanted it to be a surprise,” explained Wolfie. “And it was a surprise. We were utterly convinced we were having all boys.”

It was resolved simply enough. Jack was known as Trina, Bill was known as Judith, and Pete was known as Danielle. Although friends called them Trev One, Trev Two, and Trev Three (in that order) and no one knew why.

Their paternal grandmother called all three Lovey. In fact she called everyone in the world Lovey. It was a lot easier that way.

1895. Cruel names

Merry was called Merry because she was born on Christmas Day. Clearly her parents didn’t realize that the proper spelling of Mary had also some connection with Christmas. Merry spent her entire life, as a punishment for her parents’ lack of knowledge, saying, “No! That’s not how you spell it!”

Just over two years later, when her little brother was born, it was New Year’s Day, so he was named “Happy”. It was a providential name because when he grew up and began a career in looting he shot a couple of policemen and was known within close circles as “Trigger Happy”.

There was a third child in the family. He was called Roger; short for Roger Mortis. The parents thought it a huge joke because he was born on the very day that Grandma died. Spelling was not the parents’ greatest strength so “Rigor” was registered as “Roger”. Otherwise if he had been born on an ordinary day of the year they had in mind to call the baby Plain Jane if a girl, and Joe Blogs if a boy. And then Grandma stepped up to the plate. Roger had escaped from having a life lumbered with silliness.

Honestly, a number of people were relieved that the parents didn’t create further children. “I’m sure any uncreated children would be more than grateful that they never came into this world,” declared a neighbour, Ms. Stacey Meldrum. Stacey herself has a host of kids. I can only remember the names of three of them; Tabernacle, Vernacular, and Genuflection. After these three Stacey developed an interest in organic chemistry.

1862. Large family

Hi. My name is Nona. My mother named me that. My father apparently didn’t like the name much because it means “ninth” and I happened to be only the third.

“But I want a Nona,” said my mother.

“Who the hell is going to pay for all those babies if we have nine?” asked my father. So my mother, not to be stymied by silly particulars, named me Nona even though I was only number three.

These days Nona is not a very common name, mainly I suspect because people don’t have large families anymore and to get up to nine children could be scorned upon by the disparaging masses. I like having a not-so-common name. I have a younger brother called Octavius and an even younger sister called Decima.

Once my father abandoned the family, not long after I was born, my mother met my stepfather. By the time my mother and stepfather had reached number nine they couldn’t use Nona so they named number nine after the number three because three hadn’t been used. That is why I have a younger sister called Triana. Strictly speaking I should have been named Triana and my sister named Nona.

People these days stare if we all go out together. Just the other day my mother took all ten of us to the zoo and we went by bus. No sooner had we all sat down than an old lady asked my mother in a very loud voice, “Are they all yours, Sweetie?”

My mother said, Yes” and the old lady said “Goodness, that’s a lot. Aren’t you embarrassed?” I was so mortified.

When we got home from the zoo I heard my mother ask my stepfather what the Latin name was for Eleven.

1850. How I (usually) write a story

When this blog hits a roundish story number (in this case Number 1850) I try to blather on in a way more meaningless and useless than usual. Every second posting on the Net seems to offer advice on how to do this or that; how to increase readers to the blog, how to write a blog, and so on.

I don’t purport to be an expert (in anything). So today, rather than tell you how to go about writing a story I thought I would tell you how I go about writing a story. Perhaps the odd snippet might be of help. Possibly not.

This is me cooking, but I could just as easily be cooking up a story.

When I start writing a story I have absolutely no idea how it will end.

First of all, when I rise in the morning I check the news online, and look at the obituaries to see who has expired that I went to school with. From the obituary column I take one or two female and male names and jot them down. I don’t jot down any surnames, just the first names. I jot names down because by the time of a second cup of coffee I will have forgotten everything.

Armed with a name, the first sentence gets written. It can be anything. Sometimes it’s suggested by the name. Who cares? I type out whatever comes in my head. Today the selected names are Sheree, Ferris, Beverley, and Rex. Pick a name; if more enter the story the other three names are waiting!

Let’s start:

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong.

Isn’t it exciting? Who knows what she will do next! Who knows where it will end up!

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often.

Handy hint: Throw in little details to give the illusion that things are happening in real life.

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that last Saturday, mid-morning, she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often. She had been baking for the first half of the morning and now was taking a small basket of oatmeal cookies to Ferris, who worked on the corner mending and sewing horse saddles for the rich and indolent. Beverley had heard that his marriage had disintegrated several months earlier and she, well, kind of fancied him.

“Hi,” said Beverley. “I was just passing on a visit to my grandmother’s when I thought I’d pop in to see how you’re doing. No doubt, with your wife no longer being at home, you miss the odd bit of home cooking. So I bought you this basket of homemade oatmeal cookies.”

“That’s very kind of you,” said Ferris. “Yes, I certainly miss the home cooking since Sheree has gone.”

“I suppose,” said Beverley tentatively, “she is not coming back?”

“You supposed right,” said Ferris.

“So how are you coping on your own then?”

“Why the hell don’t you mind your own business?” said Ferris, chucking a large pair of pliers and a mallet onto a pile of leather next to him. “What’s it to you?”

“I was just trying to be sympathetic, that’s all.”

“Well you’re a bloody nosy-parker. I don’t want your dried up cookies. You can take them away and piss off.”

“I heard,” said Beverley rather rankled, “that Sheree hadn’t left you at all, but you did her in and hid the body underneath the floorboards of this workshop.”

Ferris saw red. The collapse of a marriage is a very gruelling experience. One never knows what will happen next. Beverley’s been missing for just on a week now. No one has thought to look under the floorboards of Ferris’ workshop. And, yeah, Ferris enjoyed the cookies.

(Well I’m as surprised as you are).

1810. Creative names

“One shouldn’t,” said Angel, “simply name ones children with a name you like. They should be named associated with any event or circumstance that surrounds their birth. To call someone ‘Jane’ is meaningless. One could choose the weather of the birth day instead with Rain or Sunshine or Cloud or 90%-Chance-of-Precipitation. One could choose world events and come up with names such as Africa or Iran or Qurghonteppa, depending on the news. One could call a boy (or even a girl) Arachnid if there was an infestation of spiders at the time; even Funnel Web or Chilean Recluse.

The exciting thing was that Angel was expecting twins. She secretly hoped that they would be born on the very day they were expected: the first day of May. That way she would name them May and Day. (Twins should always rhyme where possible).

But they weren’t born on the expected day. Angel named them according to the events in which they were born. One has to be honest. One has to be true to oneself. Mother and I-Feel-like-Shit-Warmed-Up and Snot are doing well.

1763. Here comes the bride

Vonda had spent her high school years (well, a good part of them) scribbling a combination of names in the back of her notebooks:

Vonda and Warren
Vonda and Doug
Vonda and Graeme
Vonda and Sylvester

She wondered which name combination would eventuate. Who would she marry? Vonda and…

Vonda and Kurt
Vonda and Damian
Vonda and Kent
Vonda and Iain

She would keep her family name of course. It was the word combination of first names that mattered:

Vonda and Lawrence are cordially invited to…
Vonda and Herbie made it into the finals of…
Vonda and Luke are proud to announce…
Vonda and Simon are just back from…

As it so happened, she fell in love with a gentleman called Trevor. At first Vonda thought that “Vonda and Trevor” had a nice ring to it. Both names shared the letter “V”. But in the weeks leading up to the wedding she decided that that was much too formal. She settled on “Vonnie and Trev”. So much more informal; so much more accessible; so much more likeable; loveable even.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of Vonnie and Trev.

Unfortunately what a banana skin was doing sitting on the floor just inside the church door was anyone’s guess. As Vonda entered the church she slipped on the banana skin, hit her head on the corner of a nearby pew, split open her skull, and all the name combinations in the world couldn’t revive her.

1736. The child can decide

When Valerie and Kent’s first baby arrived in this world they had trouble deciding on a name. Valerie wanted a transgender name such as Kim or Les; an accepted and known name but one that belonged to both females and males. Kent also wanted a transgender name but one with a bit of originality such as Oak or Marble or Peninsula. The child could decide once old enough what it wanted to be called. In the end Kent won out and they provisionally named the child Reverberation Mannequin Crenshaw-Maidstone.

The child was given a naming ceremony, but Valerie and Kent had trouble deciding where that should be held. A church, of course, was out, but the grounds of a park next to a lake with ducks and swans and weeping willows sounded good. In the end the park idea verged on Pantheism, so they invited a few friends around to their back yard and held the ceremony next to a tin fence. The child could decide once old enough what it really wanted to believe and from the beginning Valeria and Kent, by choice of venue, didn’t want to precondition the child into receiving and believing perceived hang-ups.

As the child grew and reached school age, Valerie and Kent decided against formal school education; they would home school Reverberation. A school would shove the child into stereotypical confinements. Although the government demanded certain topics to be covered in the curriculum, Valerie and Kent didn’t want to ram bigoted information down Reverberation’s throat. The child should be able to decide once old enough what interested it and what it should and shouldn’t know.

All this was years ago. These days Reverberation is a professional athlete and goes under the more practical name of Organic Fire. Organic is a lot easier to spell than Reverberation; and Organic’s partner, Zen Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Ng, doesn’t have to look up how to spell Organic’s name every time an application is made for psychiatric hospital visitation.

1705. Merry Philly

There was a time when Philadelphia rather liked her name. It was a bit different and she was the only Philadelphia in her class. Things began to change at high school. She won a book for essay writing and the inside of the cover was inscribed with a misspelling. It said “Congratulations Philadelfia”. Philadelphia was disappointed. It took all the joy out of having won the prize.

“I shall change my name to Phyllis,” declared Phyllis. That worked very well until her Chemistry teacher wrote her name as “Fillus”. Phyllis was starting to get annoyed.

“Use you middle name,” suggested her mother.

And that is why Philadelphia Mary Smith to this day is known simply as Merry.

1702. Exotic fossilization

The year was 3794. Professor Xiaoping Rakotoarisoa was cosmos-famous as a fossil personage. His speciality was human fossils. Other fossil experts throughout the cosmos were adept at studying relics of alternative intelligent life forms. On Earth it was particularly stunning when they discovered the overgrown ruins of a city on earth that experts believed was once called New York. Naturally Professor Rakotoarisoa led the research.

Of course they didn’t speak English, or even Spanish, in those far-off days in the future. They spoke quite a different language altogether. New York sounded profoundly exotic.

The city must have sunk into the sea rather suddenly, or perhaps the oceans rose to quickly cover it; something apparently to do with what they called Global Warming. There were literally thousands of human remains preserved in sediment. A good number were still wearing the clothes they died in. The clothing fabric preservation was remarkable.

The thing that most puzzled Professor Rakotoarisoa was that so many of them were wearing name tags. It was a puzzle, but a dream come true for those working in the field. And such wonderful names, such as Calvin Klein, Emporio Armani, Hugo Boss, and Ralph Lauren. Cotton-elastane Mix, Gucci, and Polyester were not uncommon names. Some of the names were quite long, such as Do Not Dry Clean, Do Not Iron, and Wash in Temperatures between 65 and 85°F. The Professor surmised that the longer names possibly belonged to royalty. The other factor Professor Rakotoarisoa found to be quite startling was how common the names were. Of all the thousands of clothed skeletons, perhaps there were fifty or sixty names that these people shared in common. Clearly New Yorkers were not a very imaginative bunch.

But my word! the thrill of discovery! Professor Rakotoarisoa was excited. His partner had just had a baby, and to celebrate his discovery of life as it was eons ago, Xiaoping Rakotoarisoa named his son Fruit of the Loom. If it had been a girl she would have been given an apparently royal name that tripped off the tongue: For Hygiene Purposes Please Keep Your Underwear on While Trying on the Garment.