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Hamsters in Absentia

I lie awake at night and think about names the way Roland Emmerich lies awake and thinks about ways to end the world.  I fixate and craft.  If I had a cauldron of etymological broth, it would boil and bubble.

Coming up with the names of things, such as the things and peoples I create, is alot like having a sliver under my skin.  It can’t be ignored, only excised through a long and tedious process.  And worse, the result of this insomniac strip-mining is not always gold.  Sometimes it’s tin.  Or just dirty hands.

But I keep pounding away at it because there’s something there to be found.  It might not even be a name.  It might be a story, or a spiritual epiphany, or something else.  Like going to the gym, you don’t do push-ups because you’re preparing for that really big push-up that might come along one day.

Well, maybe you do.  I won’t judge you.

But I do push-ups because it strengthens muscles that I use for other really important things.  Things like getting the crock pot down from the top shelf in the closet so my wife can make black bean chili so dark and succulent you’d swear it was made of chocolate.  These are things worth building muscles for.  That’s what I’m building my brain for, a nice and rich chocolatey idea.

The most recent focus of my mental calisthenics is the name of a grin-happy hamster who I frequently use to decorate birthday cards.  I’m actually working on a line of greeting cards including but not limited to this hamster, and I feel he needs a name.  Preferrably, something alliterative like Herbert, Hugo, Humphrey, Hector, Hannibal, you get the drift.  Last night, an idea struck me: Hyde.

I thought this was a good idea because he’s the pet of a science-minded little boy, and I thought he could be the result of a genetic experiment that would give him a Jekyll-and-Hyde condition.

Now comes the best part.  My wife acts as a kind of filter for my ideas.  Over the last five years of knowing her, I’ve come to find that she’s a good odometer for when an idea is too flat or too outrageous.  So I let her in on my name idea:  Hyde the Hamster.

Her response was, “Honey, I’m going to try to say this without sounding offensive, but that sounds like a metaphor for gay sex.  Hide the hamster?”

I immediately thought of the recent Penny Arcade comic and blog about sexual innuendos.

But my next thought was, Hey, isn’t that kind of discriminatory?  Afterall, it would work just as well as a euphemism for hetero sex.

Then I spent the next fifteen minutes thinking of other euphemisms.  So the search continues, but I’ll put up a post when the cards are ready for sale.

Fleece out.

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One Response

  1. John Irving’s TS Garp uses the phone book when he has a hard time thinking of the right name. Of course, it often leads to flights of fancy about what it would be like to be a marriage counselor or what kind of relationship a contractor would have with a CPA. Like Garp, I’m not that imaginative; I’m practical, though, and I’d go to the phone book too. Just a thought…

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