Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pet Names

I enjoy naming things.

I have a name for every houseplant that survives over a year. Despite having no intention of ever becoming a parent, I still keep a list of human names that I would enjoy naming a child (so, future parents out there, consult me first if you're struggling for a name for your little one). Sometimes I won't publish a blog post until I've cooked up just the right witty title (like this one—don't miss the double meaning that will become clear as you read on!) I once spent a week and a half mulling over what to call my rabbit

It had to be the perfect name, because after all, you only get to name your rabbit once, right? Wrong. The thing that occurred to me today is, I cannot seem to stop myself from serial nicknaming every animal that walks into my life. 

I name pets after their species – Hansel is, accordingly, "Rabbity Boy" – and their obvious attributes – "Fur Boy" – and then when I get bored with these elementary appellations, I start adding suffixes — like "Rabbitrocious."

I name pets after their names—Hansel is also "Handsome," Jack Jack is also "Jackelope." Junior became "Jujubee"; Pumpkin, "Sweet Punky Doodle"; Tierra, "Erra-erra-erra," and on it goes. 

I have a whole arsenal of nicknames based on traits that I find annoying. Hansel is also known as "Piglet," thanks to his enormous appetite. Jack Jack, who is a holy terror, gets the special title of "Little Stupid Stupid," inspired by a hilariously censored radio version of a Big Sean song (sadly, I could not find that version on the Internet).

I name pets after the sounds they make (Past ones were "Gromble", "Yomble", "Chuffles," and "Squee", for example) and then go on to develop variations (including "Grombeezler," "Yombat," "Chuffle-uffagus," and "Peebles & Squeeps").

I even nickname my friends' pets. My former housemate's cat, Nox, was, to me at least, all sorts of things including "Mr. Knick-Nox." And my current housemates' dog, Petey, is (only in my mind), Peetricia.

I just can't seem to stop. Whenever a word for my pets pops into my head, I feel compelled to adopt it into permanent usage. For every one of the innumerable pets I've had over the years, I probably have at least 3 alternate names. 

Weirdly, I never give nicknames to people—I rarely even use accepted shortened names. Even my boyfriend doesn't get anything except the most tame variations of common terms of endearment. You can't nickname a person without risking the possibility of causing offense, so I think the main reason I keep my indefatigable nickname engine restricted to animals only is that, unlike people, a pet won't object no matter what you call it. Remember "Booger Kitten," anyone?

Probably not. I don't think most people (except my family, who probably had a hand in creating many of the nicknames mentioned here) know of any of these names...so, I wonder if this is really something everyone does—hoard a secret library of alternative names for their animals, that only get used behind the safety of closed doors?

What do you say, readers? Do your pets get new aliases every month like mine? And if so, what are they?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The writings on the wall

Every so often, they will appear, unannounced and unbidden, upon the stall doors in the bathroom at my office. They're not really passive-aggressive notes so much as patronizing messages, from the mysterious and unnamed mother-figure who apparently watches over our building.

Did you remember to wash your hands?

Ladies please remember to flush when you're done

All female hygiene products must be placed into the recepicle —Someone helpfully inserted a T into that particular misspelled word, but neglected to replace the errant I with an A. I shake my head. The responses to any syntactical error on our restroom PSA's are always merciless, and frequently entertaining.

Last year, the message was a long diatribe about bathroom courtesy and how we should pick up any paper that we happen to drop on the floor, culminating with a preachy "It was harder to get into UMD than that!" and though I unfortunately have forgotten the exact words of the replies, a long handwritten conversation followed, mainly regarding the author's failure to use proper English.

I don't know who comes into the bathroom armed with a pen (I guess a lot of people, if they happen to be students carrying backpacks), but I don't, and sometimes I feel the sorrow of missing out.

Today, when I was unable to dry my hands because of a lack of paper towels in the dispenser, I was tempted to add my own little question to the mix: Did you remember to wash your hands? Yes. Did you remember to stock the paper towels? I would etch it out using the residual wash water that still soaked my fingers--my own little way of writing in blood. But sadly, I didn't think my hand would stay wet long enough, nor would my message fit on the remaining open area of paper. Or last long enough to really be appreciated.

Alas, I am doomed to be ever the observer in the grammatical battleground that is the ladies' room, my smug redactions and wry observations never to see the light of day. Except here. Enjoy them.