I have a penchant for naming things. I’d like to blame this on my taxonomist tendencies, but I’ve been naming things for a long time, long before I knew what taxonomy was.
My grandmum’s favourite story about me (one she tells at every family get-together) involves a four-year old me, walking into the house with hands carefully cupped and bright, excited eyes. When my grandmum leaned over and asked me what I had, I opened my hands to reveal a wolf spider larger than my palm and exclaimed, “Look, it’s Rebecca!” She almost fainted.
And, you might know how I named the gecko that sang to me Romeo, and the bat that visited me Charlie, and the skunk in the well Pepe. These are only a few examples from a multitude of arthropod and vertebrate friends with names.
I pretty much think it is okay to name animals, and even plants, but when my tendency leads me to name inanimate objects, I worry a bit more. For example, my car is named “The Horse with No Name” because I drove through the desert with it (do you know that song?).
And I have an extreme fondness for my road bicycle (my statistically significant other), named Dragonfly, because I feel like a dragonfly darting around when I ride him. The best thing about his name is that I can abbreviate it to “Dragon”.
Then I can say I ride a dragon to and from work every day and, well, what could be better than that?
I post enigmatic facebook messages about good weather to ride dragons, and how dragons don’t like rain, how we fly down mountains, etc, etc. The problem is that, as soon as you name something, it begins to come alive to you. Names have a certain power and, once you give a thing a name, it starts developing a life, a personality of its own. It begins to demand attention. (This is why it was a bad idea to name my computer Hal.)
I can’t ride my Dragon right now, and I miss him something terrible, almost as I would miss a friend.
But I suppose I am not the only one prey to this taxonomic fallacy…I’m reading Papillon right now, by Charrière, and in the story he names the wave that will take him away from the island Diable to freedom. He names it Lisette:“We call wave that take you away Lisette. O.K.?” “O.K.” Lisette arrived with the roar of an express train puling into a station. Standing straight as a rampart, she grew larger with every second. It was an impressive sight… I would sail toward the great adventure on the back of Lisette.
And, just as my bicycle came alive once named, so did Lisette in the story:Lisette was advancing with her usual noise…She was on her way; Lisette was coming straight for us, standing up like the spire of a church. With her usual deafening roar she broke over our rocks and swept toward the cliff.