The name police do not approve.

A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. Was Shakespeare right? Methinks not.

I have been accused of reading too much into names. I always notice them, and roll them about on my tongue, and repeat the especially silly or noteworthy ones to my family, with accompanying comment.

“How does one go through life, being taken seriously with a name like Gary Sprinkle?” I said the other evening, seeing his name on a newscast. Of course he is a weatherman.

“Your name is Toby,” said The Hubby. “Names are just cruelties inflicted on children.”

I happen to like my name, but I agree it is not the most mature, professional-type name, especially when attached to a woman in her forties. I can’t tell you how many people, when I introduce myself, break into smiles and tell about their dog named Toby. As if this forms a bond with me. For them it seems to.

“Maybe,” I said. I picked up a flyer on a professional therapy workshop on Oahu. “I can’t go to a workshop and spend a bunch of money to learn from someone named Catherine Moonshine, even with a Ph.D. She probably had to get a Ph.D. to compensate for her name.”

“She was probably descended from some Irish moonshine makers who settled in Tennessee and wanted to advertise their product,” said the Hubby, with unexpected whimsy.

“Yeah but now that she’s a professional she should do something about that name,” I insisted.

“She probably doesn’t know she is being reviewed by the Name Police.”

“Hmphf,” I said.

My children’s names were the source of much debate and reading of Kiddie Name Books. But in the end their names were both borrowed from people we had known: We wanted them to have unusual names, not Joshua, Evan, Britney or Ashley, as were popular in the early 90’s. Caleb had been a childhood friend, and had the added advantage of being a solid Bible name. We almost named him Caleb James, after my dad and grandpa which would have made my grandparents very happy and for that reason alone The Hubby didn’t want to.

Tawny was another friend of ours, a pretty blond woman we both liked who ended up having emotional problems but looked good doing it. I was suffering from the excessive dogginess and masculinity of my name, and wanted something unusual and feminine for a girl.

Little did I know she would later say, “Thanks, Mom, for giving me a stripper name.” Maybe she will have to get a Ph.D. to compensate. I can only hope.

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