Thursday, December 30, 2010

Antface, and Other Naming Dilemmas

The author colliding with a dolphin.

Let's begin this the first entry of a dolphin trainer blog with a simple question posed to my readers:

How long does it take you to name something?

Let's just for the sake of argument define "something" as: anything.

I can't really reply to my own question with one answer.  That shouldn't surprise any of you who know me, as I suffer from Incessant Talking Disease (ITD, as defined by the general Medical Community).   However in this particular case of Naming, I find myself lost in a world with no rules, or sense.

Let's discuss the first pet I ever named ("pet" is loosely defined as "animal that is within five feet of me").   My loving father woke me from one of several naps I was accustomed to taking throughout the day when I was but four years old.  Due to my borderline narcoleptic tendencies, I was not happy to be roused from unconsciousness.  My dad insisted in that way only parents can, that I Must See This. 

"I want to sleep, dad."  My best argument.

"But Cat!" he exclaimed.  "You Must See This!"

I stumbled after my father, thinking that no matter what it was he was going to show me, I was going to hate it.  In fact, within the five seconds it took me to walk from my bedroom to the living room in our two bedroom Chicago apartment, I decided to feign apathy.  Maybe even disdain.  It depended on whatever this phenomenon was that was about to be unveiled to me was.

My father and mother crowded around one of the living room windows of our 13th story apartment.  They pointed animatedly at the window.  I spotted a large spider relaxing in the middle of a web that spanned the entire size of our window, and a small egg sac hanging near by the (now obviously) female spider.

It was literally the coolest sight my four year old eyes had ever beheld, but I did not forget my groggy grumpiness.  I shrugged my shoulders and decided on an initial apathetic front.

"Isn't that great, Cat?  All the way up here?  We are THIR-TEEN stories high! In the air! And the spider is up here! With us! On our window! And see? She's going to have babies!"  My dad pointed to the egg sac.

It was truly amazing.  What a feat of biology! My little mind was completely and happily blown, but my face betrayed my emotion.  I shrugged again.

"This could be your first pet, Cat!" my mom said, ecstatic that my first pet did not expel large poo, and was outside, and required no human care whatsoever.

"What do you want to name it?" my dad asked.

Name my FIRST pet?  This Spider That Can Climb Really High and Have Babies Too?  Oh my GOD.  What higher honor can be bestowed upon a four year old?

Nonetheless, the naming problem occurred.  I had great names in mind.  They would pay tribute to this raw feminine power embodied in this arachnid.  People would cry when they heard of this legendary spider and her equally legendary name. All of the strong female characters I'd ever known came to mind.  Mary Poppins the Spider.  Dorothy the eight-limbed maternal wonder.  But there was this matter of an interrupted slumber, and my promise to feign disinterest.

I just had to throw this compliment back into my parents' faces.  I had to come up with the most disgusting, insulting name known to man in any language.  That would surely teach my parents an important lesson. 

I clenched my fist and teeth and muttered the most hideous name I could conjure.


And so Antface, my first pet, was so dubbed.  Like any four year old, I failed to predict the consequences of such a name would follow in the decades to come.  For example, my father penned an "Ode to Antface" for me for one of my birthdays.  It showed up in my high school graduation scrapbook my parents made me.

Despite my snafu with naming my first pet, all pets thereafter were named rather easily.  I followed the following formula: Any pets with names after food are cuter.  While many people consider the personality of their pet before the formal Naming Ceremony, I consider what color the animals are, and how hungry I am.  It's better if the pets come in pairs.  My favorite names for pets were two mice I had named Dunk and Donut.

Regardless, naming inanimate objects proves a more difficult task.  Naming this blog brought me more anxiety than such events as: High School Graduation, Trips to the Dermatologist, and Common Symptoms That Seem Like Normal Body Functions But WebMD Says They Indicate I Have Bubonic Plague. 

Let's just say that in my line of work (and ultimately, what many of my blog posts will describe) often puts me in unusual situations with marine mammals.  One of my good friends and mentors would always describe dolphins* in a bad mood as giving us the "middle flipper".

And so, welcome to The Middle Flipper.

* Some of the dolphins' names include:  Alvin, Sundance, Nicholas, and Betty.  No, I am not making this up.