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Jeff Klima Headshot

On Names

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There is a two-fold complaint nestled in the plumy thicket of today's screed, good people. And while they (the individual issues of the complaint) are as intertwined as two pigs' privates mid-coitus, they could not be more different on their face. Perhaps a metaphor about the mythological two-faced God "Janus" might have been a more palate-friendly image than that of two mud-dusted hogs bumpin' uglies under the withering August sun, but to agree with that is a pledge to stop reading this column. Still reading? I thought so, dirtbag.

For as long as I have been consciously alive, i.e. not legally abort-able (nice try, Ma) I've been fascinated* with names.

*"Fascination" is currently defined by this column as "an overwhelming need to produce a quick column and any old topic will do."

My fascination extends not just to the given name by which we govern our everyday affairs, but also to the creative and dark nom de plumes to which we assign the creations that we scrupulously refer to as "ours." My good buddy named his penis "Fear" (and we wonder why Al Qaeda hates us). My car is the called "the Red Rocket" because it has the distinct coloring and shape of a canine phallus. Now were this column strictly about my friend and mine's cock-centric whimsies (damn that sounds gay) it would be a pleasantly enjoyable piece, I can assure you (the column, not the... oh, never mind). But this column falls under the genus of "Books" and it is to "Books" that this column must pertain.

So from here-to-forth I will hold court on the subject of irritable names -- those of both authors and their creations.

The catalyst for this here topic is none other than the protagonist for the popular Hunger Games young-adult series, Katniss Everdeen. This is by far the worst name I have ever heard for anything, worse even than "Sweet Fish Vaginal Deodorant" (actual product!), and yet, I can't ejaculate it from my memory banks. Everyday of my life for the past several months, it has popped up in my cerebrum when I am choosing what flavor of pot pie I am choosing for dessert, deciding what psychic hotline to call, or arguing with my phone company that the psychic hotline ripped me off. Katniss Everdeen. Granted, Suzanne Collins wasn't the first scribe to give their character an offbeat name (thank you, Deuteronomy), but I'll be damned if it isn't the most irritating. At least "Pippi Longstocking" has a certain "laissez-faire" genteelness to it. Pippi is soothing, Katniss Everdeen sounds like an ointment made by lepers for lepers. I recognize that you want your character to "pop" from the page ala Milo Minderbender or Kilgore Trout, but damnit, authors, you can do better. If you named your actual child "Beety Buggit," guess what? They'd kick you right out of your local Gymboree. Even Vladimir Nabokov's "Humbert Humbert" is pushing it. Hell, the name Vladimir Nabokov is pushing it; I don't care what Russia thinks.

It's odd when you realize that you're no longer the carefree and dare-I-say Pippi Longstocking-ish free spirit you once were, and that nowadays your body cries out for normalcy, order, and fiber. In my youth, I gorged on the wildly inventive imagery conveyed by a name like Booger Farnsworth. These days, I hear a name like "Harry Potter" and I think, "Hmm, sounds like a good Christian Republican." It won't be long now before I mow my lawn in high socks while smoking a pipe. But on that day, I will still have the smug satisfaction that I never named a character Katniss. Also, the reason I am cutting my own grass is because I am not a multimillionaire like Suzanne Collins, so what the hell did I know?

Oh and since you've stuck around this long, you've earned it. The name I bequeathed upon my penis? Melville. Not because of the "white whale" thing though. It's because my penis, much like Herman Melville, is not well regarded amongst its contemporaries, but one day, they'll see. They'll all see.