Sorry, What Was That? I Couldn't Hear You Over Your Name.
Once upon a time in a career far, far away, I designed employee benefit enrollment software.
Are you yawning yet? The job was actually a lot of fun, but I know the score: understanding the difference between an HMO, PPO and POS isn't hot cocktail party material. Sure, every November at open enrollment time a few friends might call up to ask whether they should take the optional long-term disability upgrade. (Yes, they should.) But most of the time, the expertise I gleaned stayed in its own little box. It was work to leave at the office.
Today, I don't have an office. It's just as well, though, because my work would never stay there. That's the nature of names: they're everywhere, on everyone, part of everything. And I can't ignore them.
It's my own pathetic superpower -- I can hear names talking. Oh, do they talk. Turn on the radio, open the newspaper, and the names just chatter away, distracting me from the real subject matter. A while back, I tried to record a typical morning in Baby Name Wizard land:
News story says: Barack Obama nominates New York housing commissioner Shaun Donovan to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Laura hears: Shaun? We have a cabinet secretary named Shaun? OK, it's official, my generation is full-scale grownups. Maybe I should do something responsible to mark the occasion. No seriously, Shaun??
Jokey Hanukah song on the radio says: "Melvin and Martha are coming over to say Happy Hanukah."
Laura hears: Martha is supposed to sound like a stereotypical Jewish lady? This song stinks.
Theater review says: In one of the multiple interlocking story lines, a young man names Billy enlists in the Army and heads to Iraq to escape his disapproving father Austin.
Laura hears: Hold on...the kid is named Billy and the father is named Austin? What world does this play take place in again?
Did I say pathetic superpower? Make that a low-level curse, like always having to stir your coffee with a fork. But I suspect you understand. As a Baby Name Wizard reader, you probably hear names whisper at you from time to time too, when you're supposed to be paying attention to, say, your doctor's medical advice rather than her name tag.
So for those of you who hear names talking, what are they saying?