Saturday, August 20, 2011

proper names

Have you ever noticed that there's a power in the naming of things?  I remember having crushes on boys when I was quite little, and saying their names was like a sort of incantation or something.  My mom had lots of weird little nicknames for all of us, including "sister Susan" for both my sister and myself, pumpkinface, EB (my initials before I was married), Em, Emmy, and more that I can't recall right now.  There was very little proper name calling unless there was anger involved. 

Jeff and I seem to have carried on this tradition.  We very, very rarely use one another's names in our conversations.  Instead, we are both "babe" or "baby."  Or "babu," which came into heavy rotation after an auto-correct mess-up.  I realize this is probably nauseating for anyone who has to spend a significant amount of time with us.  Again, proper names only come out when the dialogue takes a serious or frustrated turn.

We have a dog, and we had a cat.  They both have proper names (Pepper & R-12).  What do/did we call both of them?  Puppy & Kitty. 

And now we have a baby.  Her name is Vicki Jo - we named her for my mother.  No, it's not short for anything.  I can verify that on my mother's birth certificate it says "Vicki Jo."  I'm sure, at this point, you can guess what we call her:  Baby, or the Babe.  It almost sounds weird to me when people say her actual name.  I suppose I'm going to have to get used to it - when she goes to school, they won't be able to put Babe on her desk tag!  Sometimes I worry that she's not going to recognize her real name when the time comes.

My theory on this is that proper names are a little bit too powerful.  It's akin to the hesitation in certain Jewish circles to use God's special name revealed to Moses (JHWH).  God collaborated with Adam to name every single creature on the earth (or so the story goes) - I wonder if he felt the power of that privilege?


Amanda Rose said...

When Paul and I argue he says "Amanda" at the end of every other sentence and it makes me crazy. Maybe it's because my parents, siblings, friends, etc. only called me Bebe for as long as I can remember...

Emily said...

Yes! My question, though, is: do you remember when you went to grade school and people started calling you Amanda? Was it weird?