Thursday, April 9, 2009

What's in a Name?

A few weekends ago, my young daughter’s hamster died. Okay, being the loving mom that I am, I immediately agreed to get her another one because there’s nothing cuter than a furry fluff ball of a rodent that can do acrobats on the sides of the wire cage and spin for hours on her wheel. So the other night was the big night. All the way down to the big box pet store we discussed new names.

Keep in mind that I loved the deceased hamster’s name Mousla. It suited the somewhat lazy, okay if it will amuse you I’ll spin on my wheel for you Russian Dwarf hamster, which spent a lot of time eating and sleeping.

Well, my darling daughter decided this new hamster was going to be named Twister. I should have stopped the car right then and there and turned around. No way should I have allowed my precocious child to walk through those big, glass double doors. No way should I have allowed that darling of mine to even look at a cage filled with ROBO dwarf hamsters. The name alone should have sent shivers down my spine. ROBO. I’ve got images of the Terminator flitting through my consciousness even as I write this. A super-stud hamster on a mission to take out everything in its path.

“But they’re so cute, Mama. Paleeze?”

“Oh, honey, let’s go see what the other big box store has.”

“But they’re so cute and you promised.” Foot stomping on ground now. “I want one.”

Okay, so now it’s images of the spoilt brat from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“I know I promised sweetie. How about one of those docile, sleeping ones in this cage?”

“Boring.” My son pipes in. “How about a rat? We can name him Remy, like in the movie Ratatouille.”

“Er, no honey, your dad doesn’t like rats.”

Neither does your mom because they do not look as cute as Hollywood portrays them.

“May I help you?” An unsuspecting Michael approaches with a key.

NO! “May we see one of those cute, little hamsters over there, please?”

“Can I have two?”

“One.” She tricked me. I was in over my head now.

My first clue to my future nightmare should have been when it took Michael a few minutes to capture our new pet. The pet house went belly up. The wheel tipped over. Wood chips went flying as if struck by a tornado-er-Twister.

After we got our fluff ball home, I realized she could jump. Close to twelve inches straight up in the air. And if she got away would be almost impossible to catch. We have dogs that chase anything. Not a good combination, people.

So after some quick internet research, I discovered she might be able to escape through the metal bars of her cage. Not a good thing to figure out AFTER she’s home. Being the kind mom that I am and not wanting to have to attend another pet funeral so quickly, I switched cages with my son’s hamster that lived in an aquarium. Fortunately, the switch-off went without a glitch. So now we can see all the acrobatics, and dervishes this hamster on speed creates.

Or a Twister.

What’s in a name? Isn’t that a loaded question? As a writer, a lot. As a mom, well….lets just say I should have put my writer’s cap on instead of wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Aside from the usual naming books that give me the meaning and the background of a name, my other favorite research guide is Pierre Le Rouzic’s The Name Book. This book contains incredible information on the personality and characteristics of a name.

For instance, in my latestmanuscript, the heroine’s name is Ruth. Her highly tuned emotions and high moral code are perfect for the caring and nurturing medical profession she works in, as opposed to say an Andrea or Erica, who would be better suited for a career elsewhere. Or my hero, Noah, a pilot who needs adventure but tends to be on the stubborn side and won’t let go of his son’s death.

A lot goes into naming a character, or a child, or a pet. Somehow Twister didn’t quite make it into Pierre’s book, but I can see the entry if there was one. Highly active, able to climb walls in a single bound, super speed energy without the benefit of caffeine. Kind of like a child I know. And last but not least, a cute, furry fluff ball that will worm its way into the hearts of unsuspecting humans.


Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Kim, What a fabulous post. And it sure brings back memories. I feel the need to warn you about the next step in rodent ownership - getting a "companion" for your current furry friend. Oh, the pet store people will guilt-trip you into getting a out for this tactic - "They're such social creatures. It really is cruel to have only one."

I fell for it. They showed us a wonderful little mouse that would be a great "friend". And they were almost certain it was the same sex as our current mouse. "Almost" being the key word there.

Three months and 36 baby mice later (YES! 36), the friends had to maintain separate residences. I just couldn't take it anymore.

So, beware!

Blessings, Teri

Carol Ann said...

Wonderful post, Kim. I so remember my girls having hamsters...they always managed to escape and wind up dead in the sump pump. Not pretty. We had one of those plastic clear balls that the hamster could run around in. Lots of fun to watch the cats and dog interact with it!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I laughed my way through this entire post, Kim!

I remember those days...we could never get a pet of the rodent family - because we already had a Rat Terrier LOL!

Cute, cute, cute.

Good luck with your book, may God bless you with many sales!