Yesterday while in the doctor’s office the doctor, who I had never met before, asked me what I preferred to be called. Let’s see, intelligent, funny, perhaps attractive would be nice. Oh, if you mean my name, Susie works well. Looking up over the thick black rims of his reading glasses he said, “really?”, as though I’d asked him to call me Desdemona Lemongrass. What’s wrong with Susie? It’s a perfectly good name. It originally belonged to my great-grandmother and she did very well with it, thank you. If Susie is the strangest name he’s heard lately he hasn’t been watching the news. Kate Winslet recently dubbed her new baby boy Bear Blaze. Now that deserves a “really?” Bear Blaze? Moon Unit and Dweezil weren’t punishment enough? Jessica Simpson called her son Ace Knute with Gwyneth Paltrow naming her little angel Apple. Beyonce chose Blue Ivy as the perfect name for her daughter. At least she could have gotten the color right.
Names, I believe, are important. They follow us throughout our lives and often help shape who we are. Once I read about a women in a maternity ward naming her infant daughter, Private (pronounced pre-vaah-tee). This, because she couldn’t think of a name so used the word on the sign over the door across the hall from her in the hospital as a guide. PRIVATE. Nice. What’s next, Cafeteria or Radiology?
In high school I learned history (or at least attended the class) in the seat behind Robin Hood (a girl), and briefly dated John Johann Johnson, who we simply referred to as J.J. Thinking back it should have been, J.J.J. Charlie Chaplain was the drum major in my Junior year, and if being in the band wasn’t enough of a social gaffe, his name was an endless source of ridicule. Fortunately Charlie went on to graduate from medical school and a successful career in gynecology. Sometimes names hinder a person in business. I was once referred to a surgeon with the last name of Hamburger. Most likely this was linked to German heritage, but in his profession I can imagine it’s not a plus.
When I was a dental assistant, there was a dentist listed on the local roster of dentists by the name of Dr. Sugar. Hmmm. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. Once in his office to deliver some films I noticed there were bowls of candy strategically placed in the office. Obviously drumming up new business.
I babysat as a kid for Harry Orange and his wife Ann Orange. He fit the description to a tee, being a rotund man blessed with his and someone elses share of body hair all the color of a ripe persimmon. Someone was thinking ahead when he came into the world. At fifteen I painted a local bakery’s windows for Halloween, appropriately given a check for the job from Mr. Baker, the appropriate owner of the establishment.
Pregnant with my daughter, we searched, argued, debated, and changed our mind about names right up until I entered the delivery room. Muriel, my grandmother’s name, was suggested by my parents. I adored my grandmother, a wonderful woman by anyones standards, but wasn’t it enough she had to go through he life with that moniker, did we have to repeat the mistake? Being Susan, which was shortened to Sue, Susie, Suzy, Sus or lengthened to Suzanne, Susie-Q, and God knows what else, I wanted a name which couldn’t be cut off at the knees. In the end, Heather came to live at our house, shortly known at Heath. Sigh.
All this came to mind because of a young lady working behind the counter at Target the other day wearing a name tag reading, Shy-low. I couldn’t help but inquire about the origin of the name. She explained it was a version of Shiloh. I didn’t have the heart to explain I’d gotten that far in the riddle prior to asking the questions. Her mother, it seemed, wanted to add some originality to the original. Success was definitely achieved.
There are some odd ones circulating at the moment, Crispian, for example. Sounds like a snack cracker. Breezy, for a girl’s name brings to mind fabric softener or perhaps a light-headed girl, and I do not mean hair color. Names come and go, I would suppose. You don’t see many Ethyl’s or Gladys’ these days, and I can’t remember the last time a man introduced himself to me as Harvey or Stanley.
It’s good to infuse some new names into the mix for a little variety perhaps. I do wish they’d at least spell them so we could pronounce them, however. My second husband’s last name was Smallwood, which became mine once I said I do. For the years we were married I was constantly asked to spell it. Our realtor’s name was spelled Rene, but pronounced Rainey. I had to write it phonetically on a piece of paper before I went in the office. When living in the southern states, I met many people with two first names like Billy Bob, Mary Lou, etc. Our insurance agent was Bobby Ray something or other, and never went by Bobby that I knew off. Once a month Ina Mae performed wonders on my hair, and our neighbor Patsy Jane, in Alabama, stopped by often for coffee and a bit of gossip.
So it remains a quandary what to name our offspring. Not for me, of course, I’ve done my damage. If I was to do it again, I’d believe I’d go for something original like Rhino or Topaz. Perhaps if I come around again, I’ll spend some time writing some ideas down so I don’t end up with Private or something as plebian as John.
Anyhow, food for thought on this glorious spring day. This is my last salute to my leftover corned beef. It was really good with the bit of hot in the topping.
Corned Beef Colcannon Soup
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry pearled barley
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 cups beef stock
3 cups cooked corned beef, diced
3 slices cooked crisp bacon, crumbled
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
4 cups packed fresh spinach
1/2 sour cream
1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper
In large saucepan boil water over high heat. Stir in barley and mushrooms. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 mins. Drain reserving all liquid. Set aside.
Place onion, carrots, and celery, and garlic cut in chunks in food processor.
Pulse until chopped.
Melt butter in stockpot over high heat. Add minced vegetables and tomato paste to pan.
Cook until liquid disappears. Deglaze with wine an continue cooking until wine is nearly evaporated.
Add reserved stock, corned beef, potatoes, bay leaves, and sprig of thyme. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 15 mins. or until potatoes are fork tender. Stir in barley and spinach. Continue cooking for 10 mins. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprig. Adjust seasonings if needed.
For topping combine all ingredients. Serve in dollops on top of soup.