What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name?  Well, if it’s like many of the names young parents are coming up with recently, there’s a whole lot of potential for teasing.  I recently read an article on-line that listed some of the top baby names that we would be seeing in 2016.  I could not believe when I read one of them, Kale.  Really?  You’re going to name your child after lettuce?  Yes, at least it is one of the more nutritious breed of leafy green vegetables, but still…it’s lettuce.  I guess if a certain actress can name her child after a piece of fruit, why not a vegetable, and a trendy one to boot?

Being the self-proclaimed nerd that I am, I was curious to see what a classroom full of children named after various types of lettuce would look like, and let me tell you, it will be one awesome salad!  Roll call just might be too much excitement for an avid vegetarian.  You would see the more commonplace leaves, Iceberg (cue quotes from “Titanic”), Arugula, Radicchio, Romaine, and Bibb.  Meet the twins, Crisphead and Butterhead whose parents should be given the Worst Parents of the Year award for basically enabling bullies to be lazy…they won’t even have to try to make fun of those names.  I pity the child who must live life (at least until he is able to legally change his name) as Little Leprechaun, although no one will ever be at a loss for a cute nickname for Little Lep.  The child christened, Devil’s Tongue, must have been a little imp even before he was born to warrant a name like that.  And coming to the last name on the menu, I mean roster, Hyper Red Rumple (yes…that is an actual type of lettuce).  Do I even need to comment on this one?

Obviously, I am being quite silly here, but if we step back and look at some of the names that babies are coming home with, is Endive really that far out there?  For the most part, I believe that the driving force behind the trend for outrageous names is a desire for these children to stand out and have unique names.  These parents most likely do not want their child to get lost in a sea of ten other Olivia’s, Sophia’s, Liam’s, and Noah’s (I myself was in a class of four Megan’s at one time, in a grade school class which included less than twenty girls), however I do believe there is such a thing as TOO unique, and if you ask me, that thing is the name Kale.


Wanted…Schizophrenic Deer

Deer. Dear me.  I’m sure there is a purpose for them outside of being the bane of many a person’s existence.  I’m still trying to figure out what exactly the purpose is, though.  While I fully acknowledge (and dislike) that we as humans have taken away much of the deer’s habitat and continue to do so, I also must acknowledge how utterly brainless deer appear to be.  The proof of their brainless-ness?  The amount of accidents that deer cause and the amount of lifeless deer bodies (in various stages of dismemberment) that litter many a road’s surface.   Between dead deer, squirrels, birds, skunks, and bunnies, it’s a veritable obstacle course out there.

I think most of us have at least one deer story. Many involve them leaping out of nowhere and disappearing back to the abyss they seemingly came from like ghost deer, sometimes leaving considerable damage to our unsuspecting vehicles in their wake.  I have to wonder what possesses them to seemingly leap, dart, and sprint to an almost certain death.  Are they suicide bombers sacrificing themselves for the good of all deer-kind?  Are they daredevil deer, seeking a thrill where there is a 90 percent chance that they might not make it out alive?  Whatever the case, I am convinced that deer are crazy.

About a week ago, I was on my way to my usual Saturday morning Pilates class, innocently driving at a speed of 25 mph along a very narrow road in a wooded area. I always have in the back of my mind that there is a high probability that I will encounter at least one deer along this stretch of road.  In the fourteen years that I have been passing along this road, I have never met a deer.  Until last week.  As I crested the hill, I saw him in all his crazy glory.  He just stood there in the middle of the road.  Staring.  Blankly staring.  Blankly staring at me.  It was rather unsettling.  I had come to a stop, but as I slowly inched forward, Mr. Deer seemed to snap out of his trance a little.  He spastically darted over to the left and tentatively placed two hooves up on the hillside, making me believe he was going to climb up it so I could go merrily on my way.  Nope.  He backed down and moved an inch to his right, repeating the same movements he had a moment ago.  Obviously not liking this option either, he jerks around to face me again, crazed look in his eyes.  At this point, about 3-4 minutes have passed by, and I am starting to get a bit impatient, so I start yelling at the deer like he can hear me or understand me, “COME ON YOU STUPID DEER!!!!  MOVE!!!!!!!”  I flash my lights at him, and this seems to break his possibly drug-induced psychedelic reverie.  He darts back and forth a couple of times, giving me reason to believe he may be border-line schizophrenic.  Before shooting over to the right side of the road (since the left was not to his liking) he stares me down one more time.  “COME ON DEER!!!!!!!!!  MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!  GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!!!”  He flings himself over to the guard rail and places a tentative hoof atop it, but like the tease he is, puts the hoof back down.  He repeats this move two more times and finally hurls himself over the guard rail and, I pray, down the hill.  Given this particular deer’s unpredictability, I am hesitant to continue along lest he has an entire posse of schizophrenic ninja deer just waiting to attack my car.

I let another minute elapse, garner my courage, and slowly proceed. Luckily, this deer that quite possibly should belong in a straitjacket must have disappeared.  I had no further encounters.  Shockingly, my car and I escaped this unexpected meeting unscathed with a rather comical story to tell.  But just a word of warning…keep your eyes out for a schizophrenic ninja deer.  You never know when or where he might appear.

No Offense…

In the spirit (no pun intended…honest!) of Halloween, I feel the need to vent a little about costumes. When I was a little girl, which really wasn’t ALL that long ago, I don’t remember having to worry about my costume offending anyone.  It was hard enough trying to decide between a cat (for the third time) or a princess, or come up with some good reason why I shouldn’t be the pumpkin that my mom thought was so adorable, but I thought made me look pudgy.  (My best reason, which was entirely true, was the elastic on the little stem hat cut into the back of my ears and under my chin).  Now kids and adults alike have to worry about what group of people they are unintentionally mocking in their costume choices.  While I understand the need to be sensitive to different cultures and current events, it has become a bit ridiculous.  It is like trying to walk across a floor strewn with glass shards and eggshells.  There are only a couple of safe places to step.

Thinking back on some of the costumes I wore, I must have unintentionally offended SO many people, though some of the fault would be my mother’s (sorry mom). I was a Native American (and actually, that was still during the time when we used the term “Indian”), a nerd, and a Chinese girl.  I believe I went as a hobo one year when the weather was rather cold and nasty, and I was a pirate once or twice.  As a child and preteen, Halloween was a day that I could have fun and dress up.  I never thought that I could potentially offend anyone’s religious beliefs by being an angel or a devil.  The bunny rabbit, black cat, and leopard I dressed up as possibly offended animal rights activists.  The cute little hula girl costume I was so excited to wear most likely was not culturally accurate, but what 10-year old thinks of these things?  I was just so excited to dress up and get candy, and that grass skirt was so cool!

I think our culture has become a little too politically correct. Can’t we have one day when we don’t have to stress out over other people’s sensitivities?  Now I’m not saying that it is ok to mock anyone’s physical attributes or situations in life, but really…dressing up as a granny is not disrespectful to the elderly.  Growing old is a fact of life.  Personally, most times, my costume choices were because I liked what I was dressing up as.

Let’s get something straight. Nine times out of ten, dressing as a ghost is not meant to mock the deceased or the unnaturally pale.  The soldiers, cops, firefighters, nurses, and doctors knocking at your door are not conforming to gender biases.  These could be people the children look up to or maybe aspire to be once they are adults.  And yes, maybe we are not culturally accurate and more research should be conducted when dressing up as a Native American, a Swiss yodeler, or a Spanish senorita, but I would like to think that we could be flattered instead of offended that people are intrigued enough by different cultures to dress up this way.

I could go on in my ranting, but I believe I have a solution to the stress of choosing a costume. In order not to offend anyone, my go-to costume this year is me.  I am the only person I can offend with this costume, and frankly, I really need to stop being so sensitive.  It’s just a costume.

Shut Up and Read

Sometimes I think that reading and writing are exponentially better than verbal communication. Now I know that the written word certainly has its drawbacks (hello…no sarcasm font), but hear me out on this. Some people are “blessed” with the “gift” of gab…let’s call them Gabbers. What Gabbers might not realize is that some people don’t view it quite so much as a gift. As a writer, I am all about the details, but as a listener…please, PLEASE, PLEASE just give me a straightforward story. All I really need to know is a starting position, a couple defining moments of the story, and the end result, which hopefully has a point. If you are telling me about the chipmunk that you almost ran over when it darted out in front of you on your way to Target, I really don’t need to know that you dried your hair in record time that morning; that you wore this cute little gray cowl-neck sweater dress that you had to buy when you saw your best friend’s sister wearing it in red on Monday, or that you were thinking about making tacos for dinner later. All I need to know is that you were driving, a chipmunk darted out in front of you, you jammed on the breaks, and the chipmunk went on to harass more unsuspecting drivers. The story should take 2 minutes tops, not 10. If such an above story were written communication, however, I’d have the luxury of skimming over the unnecessary details and skipping right to that glorious finale in record time.

Because people are not remotely like books at all, I would look exceptionally rude if I was engaged in a conversation and suddenly said, “I’m sorry, but can we do this conversation thing another time?” and walk away. If a conversation were a book, you could just mark the page/dialogue to pick up again later.  You would not lose your spot, and you would not have to hear the same thing over again. Unfortunately, you can’t put a bookmark in someone’s mouth. I can’t imagine that sliding a bookmark (no matter how pretty) between a person’s flapping lips, would be deemed socially acceptable, funny though it might be.

Picture 10.13.15

After all of this, however, I certainly acknowledge and embrace the fact that holding actual conversations with people is enjoyable as well as necessary. There are certainly moments in life when you need people, and that comforting look or gesture can do wonders for a weeping soul. For all of a book’s merits, it can’t smile at your joys; it can’t hug you back; and it certainly can’t wipe that tear off your wet cheek.

Yes….I’m Buying 10 Sticks of Deodorant

One of the benefits of on-line shopping, besides not having to change out of your comfy flannel pajama pants and warm hoodie to brave the arctic blasts of winter, is the lack of a human cashier. Now I don’t mean to sound rude or anti-social, nor am I trying to eliminate anyone’s job, but I do have a pet peeve involving some cashiers…they can be SO DARN NOSY! Yes, I’m depositing all of the objects that I want to purchase on your conveyor belt or counter. Yes, there is no hiding what I am buying. Yes, I am a human being who might help end your boredom, however, why do some cashiers find it necessary to make a comment about one or more, or all of the items a person is purchasing? What makes this bottle of Tylenol, that box of Kleenex, or that bar of soap SO interesting that you have to comment about each item you scan? Sometimes I feel like someone must have stuck a, “Please make unnecessary, and possibly embarrassing, comments about every item I am buying,” sign on my forehead.

I was in a certain bookstore some time ago buying some of my favorite tea and a book. All I wanted to do was buy said items, get in my car, and go home. Unfortunately, I saw that I was next in line for the chatty cashier who thinks he’s auditioning for a spot on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” There is nothing funny about the tea I am buying nor the book I am going to read, yet he just finds it all so hilarious. I try to hide my derision, fight back the eye roll, grunt a couple times before finally being allowed to pay and get the heck out of there. Full confession…one time I returned a book back to the shelf because Mr. Comedian was the only one at the checkout.

My mother has experienced this as well. She recently took 6 bottles of her favorite wine up to the register to purchase. Now my mom is certainly no lush, so these bottles will last months. There are perfectly good and innocent reasons for buying 6 bottles of wine at once: a large party, multiple gifts, grabbing a bottle or two for oneself as well as some friends, or simply stocking up since the wine is on sale, as was the case with my mom. So there was no need for the cashier to comment, “WOW…you must really like this wine to be getting so many bottles.” I suppose it’s not such a bad comment, but it was also completely unnecessary and none of the man’s business. To a sensitive person, it may even appear that he is insinuating some type of drinking problem.

I am sure that most times, these third degrees are all in an effort to be friendly and provide good customer service, but frankly, I’m good with a smile. A simple “hi” is completely acceptable. Anything more than that I can start to get a little uncomfortable and a little annoyed. I can only imagine how mortified I would be if I had to buy bulk toilet paper. In such cases (or in all cases, really) God bless self-checkouts!

Have We Met Before?

I’m just going to go ahead and say it. I feel like I’m an awkward person. No shame; it is what it is and all manner of other conciliatory statements. That being said, most things in life that “normal” people find absolutely every day and run-of-the-mill, I often end up making awkward. I’m that girl who struggles with inner arguments when I am entering a building and I see someone behind me (but when I say see someone behind me, I mean this person is halfway down the hall) and debate whether to stand there awkwardly holding the door for the stranger or go through the door normally and be on my merry way. You can probably guess which option I typically choose, since the former contained the word awkward, and that seems to be the topic. So, yes…I stand there holding the door open. Inevitably, my seemingly polite gesture just makes the person I am holding the door for feel like he/she has to sprint for the door so as to not make me stand there longer than necessary. The most awkward part? That seemingly slow motion progress of the person to the door. Where do I look? I already smiled at that person…assured them with a hand gesture that they don’t have to hurry. So I normally look at the floor. The floor is so welcoming. It is so welcoming, that it often just reaches out to offer a spontaneous meeting, a kind hug even, but that is a topic for another time. That topic’s working title being, “The Functioning Klutz.” But I digress. Back to holding the door open. The poor person arrives semi-breathless, thanking me for holding the door for him/her, and I feel the need to apologize. AWKWARD.

But here is a situation that I think everyone, even those blessed normal people, finds awkward. I’m talking about those instances where you keep running into the same person over and over again within minutes. This can happen at the grocery store….smile and nod when you first reach for the same apple. Minutes later you’re both waiting at the deli counter. Smile again, a little less broad, and maybe say “hi,” if you’re feeling so bold). Turn the corner to make your way up the chips aisle, and who is there? You guessed it…your friend from the produce section. You run into her at least 2 more times during your trip, all culminating in a mad dash for the checkout with the shortest line. All bets are off in the courteous department when your one mission is to get out of the store as quickly as possible.

A similar situation recently happened to me while I was out for a relaxing, or what was meant to be relaxing, walk along my street. It was relatively early, and my street isn’t a long one, but as I began my walk, I found that one of my neighbors was already out running. Now I have no problem with this neighbor. She seems like a very nice person, but I also don’t need to continue to encounter her multiple times in thirty minutes. We are both not at our best, no make-up, and my long hair thrown in a messy ponytail-bun hybrid. Her short hair is pushed back by a neon green and pink headband. We both are listening to music, so at that first meeting we each take an earbud out to smile and say hi. Now, as we are going in different directions, I proceed to have an inner debate. Do I stay the course or do I switch sides of the road to go the same direction as her? I am following the proper walker/runner street protocol, so I keep to my side.

Several minutes pass and as I clear the crest of the hill, I see her beginning her trek up it. I panic, yes panic, and wonder whether to say hi again, simply smile, or just ignore her. My last minute decision? Seek the comfort and solace of my phone and pretend that I am messing with my music. I know this strategy will only work for me once, so in all future passes, I just plaster a congenial smile on my face and hide behind my sunglasses, not knowing if she returned the smile or not. It is safer that way. Someone needs to come up with a widely accepted etiquette for these types of situations, but for now, my resolution might just have to be to walk and shop at 5 AM.