(originally posted 10/4/2012)
I think having a pet is a great way for children to learn about responsibility and commitment. The first thing you can teach them is that if they buy a goldfish there is no point in giving it a name. None whatsoever, and if they do they are stupid. Make this point by yelling various names at the fish in the bowl and then pointing out the complete lack of attention the goldfish gives you. Sometimes your young son or daughter will point out that even though fish don’t have ears, they feel sound waves as vibrations and that is why you should never tap on their tank. You’ll want to nip this sort of insurrection right in bud. I would suggest tapping forcefully on the goldfish’s bowl with a ball peen hammer until such a time as the child is required to get a large towel to soak up the water pouring out all over the floor and something to hold the fish that is now flopping around on the carpeting. You don’t want to waste a valuable teaching moment, so make sure and reinforce the point that it’s a fucking fish so it doesn’t need a name.
You might try and do the same thing with the old people I see at the park sometimes. I approached one of these geezers who spent every afternoon feeding pigeons and was treated to the following information: “The big one over there is named Grey Boy.” I rubbed my chin briefly with a quizzical look on my face and then offered “No he’s not. He’s a fucking pigeon.” I thought for a moment he was pulling my leg, a man of his years giving a bird a name but it quickly became clear that he was dead serious. He looked all offended. Trying to explain myself a little further I said, “You might as well believe that he’s named you Sad Fuck and every afternoon he leaves his winged buddies with a wave of his wing and tells them he’s off to hang out with Sad Fuck.” I also explained that sitting in a park talking to birds is exactly the kind of behavior that will get someone of his advancing years an opportunity to try to convince the guards that your pal Grey Boy was able to track you down at the local nursing home
Do you see what I’m getting at? Dogs have names, cats have names (although I have my suspicions about cats) and maybe even monkeys have names. The point of a name is something that when spoken makes the object of said name recognize you’re speaking to them and pay you some attention (which is why you can see I have my doubts about cats). If you call a fish Carl he/she is not going to know his/her name is Carl which makes it a pointless exercise.
Now some of you may argue that we give deaf people names and they can’t hear shit. OK, I agree that they can’t hear it but other people can hear it and know who you’re talking about. As in the sentence “Somebody get Timmy out of the fucking driveway before he gets run over, already!”. If you’re alone with Timmy and want to call him Can’t Hear Shit (sounds like a good Indian name to me) then feel free. Just watch out in case ol’ Can’t Hear Shit can read lips. Some of them are sneaky like that.
Here’s my point. You can’t just go around giving animals names because next thing you know you’re giving inanimate objects names and then we’ll never know who the crazy people are so we can lock them away. A name is a big deal and the more you use it inappropriately the less value it has. Why do you think you’re helpless against a demon unless you figure out his name? Once you know his name you have him by the metaphysical balls. I’m not even sure voodoo works unless you know the victim’s name. I could be wrong about that, maybe you just need a lock of hair or a semen sample or something.
But I digress.
A name means something. In the old days you were named after a physical feature, a family tradition or what you did for a living. It was important stuff. Now you have kids naming their fish after their Grandfather Carl. Is that really what the kid thinks of his Grandfather? That he was a mindless, limbless, cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate? Now if he secretly hated the man then it might be ok to name the fish Carl under the one condition that he immediately goes out and buys a large piranha to consume Carl as he cheers it on. If he then names the piranha though, we’re back to the ball peen hammer solution. Just watch out the kid doesn’t lose a finger putting the piranha in a cup.
The water gets a bit muddy when you start to give people nicknames they don’t understand or give your own body parts names. In the case of the former I’m not going to allow it unless the person on the receiving end of the nickname clearly understands the reference and agrees to respond to it. In the latter case I will allow it as long as you use your real name first to identify it, i.e., Brian Catani’s Donkster.
As you can see, I take names very seriously. That’s the truth or my name isn’t Lance Manion.