What is funny about being in traffic where the speed limit signs mock you because you are sitting stock still? Well, surprisingly even here, or especially here, you might see evidence of someone who has a funny bone. I had to laugh when I saw the guy in the High Occupancy Vehicle lane with a skeleton as his passenger. What did he say when the police pulled him over?
"Hello, Officer meet my wife Anna Rexia. Her brother is Napoleon Boney Part. You know every family has a skeleton in the closet except mine because she is with me. We feel that a skeleton needs to get out occasionally."
My son-in-law is a police officer and the other day he pulled a woman over. The name on the license was Abcde. He asked if she could pronounce that for him. It's Ab-said-ee. What did her parents name her sister? Lmnop? She probably has a brother Qrstu. I do not really know why this seems weird when my best friend's name is Dee. I know a lady at church called Bea. We all know someone called A.J. or B.J or C.J. Maybe it's the larger grouping of letters I am struggling with. My husband has a photo of a tomb stone that reads, 'One of the Five F's.' Every boy was named F and another letter. I think the parents needed to make a greater ef-fort don't you?
Should we try harder with naming our children? I heard about the couple who tried for fifteen years to have a kid. Finally they had a beautiful little girl who they named Ophelia. It is a lovely name but their surname was Bottom. Put that together.
And I know a dear lady whose name was Ima but she married a Mr. Pig. I know a Robin Hood and a Leaf Green. Yes, it's funny but the child has to wear it.
My mother liked fancy names. Her dad was Shirley Archibald Clarence. I had an uncle Napoleon Ralph. And my brother Edward, my father Edward and my grandfather Edward had dilemmas at the mailbox because they all lived at the same address. My other brother was named for the doctor who delivered him. I am not sure my brother loved Dr. Lambert. I was thinking about that tradition but my doctor was Lanagasunderum Ganapathy.
My husband liked hippy names like Sky, Storm, Summer, Spring. Brooke was the only natural phenomenon I could agree on. However I now have the scream-it-fifteen-times-as-if-you-are-at-the-ballfield rule. After screaming "Brooke, Brooke, Brooke" as she ran to make a home run in softball, I leapt up and exclaimed, "Yes, I laid an egg!"
My son is expecting a baby boy any day. He loves the name Ralph. Scream it, son. Scream it fifteen times and let a wiser person prevail. He has a girl's name picked out too. It's Amanda Lynn. “Aw,” you might say. “What is wrong with that?” Nothing unless your surname is Harp.
If real names are this problematic how much better should we creatives be in choosing names for our characters? Must they reflect the nature of our people? Could Anna Rexic be extremely obese to change it up? Is Napoleon B. Part tall and angular but always with one hand in his shirt? Should Abcde, our friend Ab-said-dee have the last name Letterman and be an appalling speller? Or should their names describe them exactly?
Would I have read The Hobbit if Bilbo had been called a Fred? I don't think I would have picked up a book called The Freds. What if Snow White was just Beige? Take care writers out there, because our characters’ names matter.
Writer Jenny Harp is a New Zealander grandmother who lives in the United States with her husband and loves God, life and family.