Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Friday, May 11, 2007

What’s In A Name?

So now I’m hitched.

Before I launch into a recap of my wedding and honeymoon trip to Rome, I will pause to mention the first major change for Lynda: her last name. Lynda hemmed and hawed a bit about having to change her last name, though not for the stereotypical “anti-male chauvinism” reasons: “loss of identity”, “subordination of women”, “hegemony of the patriarchy”, etc. No, her reticence on the issue stems from the fact that to change your last name in Texas, it takes more phone calls, paperwork, and bureaucratic “you need to fill out these forms in triplicate, present 4 forms of ID, and had to have saved at least two of your baby molars” demands than it takes to bring high-grade plutonium into the country. This is in Texas, land of no state income tax and generally unobtrusive local government; I can’t imagine what it would be like in a more regulation and government-heavy state like Maryland or Massachusetts.

Being the “sensitive and fair-minded with a Christ-like sense of humility” person that I am, I do recognize that it appears to be unfair that Lynda has to change her last name and I don’t. And, taking my vow seriously to share equally in life’s burdens with my new bride, I proposed that we share this particular burden: instead of one taking the other’s surname, we both should change our last name to a mutually agreed upon third name. Does this not exude brilliance and bear the mark of true equality, or what?

Now we had to mutually agree upon a third name. Again in the spirit of true equality, I proposed some surnames that mixed my Irish heritage with her Hispanic heritage:

Jerry and Lynda O’Rodriguez
Jerry and Lynda McGonzalez
Jerry and Lynda de la Flanigan

None of these were suitable. After much thought, reflection, and throwing darts at pages of the phone book, we decided on our new surname:

Jerry and Lynda Rumplestiltskin

Of course, you may be wondering why we chose this particular moniker. One afternoon last summer, Lynda and I fell asleep on the couch. Arising from our slumber, we took notice that our clothes were somewhat wrinkled, or as Lynda said, “rumpled”. Lynda, thinking of Rip Van Winkle and his long nap but getting her fairy tale names mixed up, came up with this little bon mot: “Maybe that’s why they called him Rumplestiltskin….because he was rumpled!”.

Sadly, this is actually the best offering to come from her unique joke-authoring ability. Another sampling, this one recent:

Lynda: I wonder why they call it ‘Caesar Salad’…
Me: I don’t know…
Lynda: Maybe it’s because he cut off so many heads. (Laughs at her own ‘joke’)
Me: (Puzzled look on face, brain searching for some possible connection)...
Lynda: You know, the salad’s got heads of lettuce…get it?
Me: (Dumbfounded look)...
Lynda: (Laughing hysterically) That’s hilarious!!!
Me: (Slamming head against table)...
Lynda: Oh, wait, I’ve got another one…
Me: I will now set myself on fire.

Good God. I weep for our children. Of course, Lynda thinks she is Shecky Greene reborn, and is offended that I do not share her enthusiastically positive appraisal of her ‘humor’. When she suggested ‘Rumplestiltskin’, in honor of her ‘joke’, I agreed for the most noble of reasons: since we waited until we were married - more than two years - to enjoy connubial bliss, I’ll be damned if I’m going to upset her now and endanger access to said connubial bliss. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m not an idiot.

Having some time to digest the idea of being Jerry Rumplestiltskin, I have come to see the upside of having such a distinctive last name. I have often wanted to chuck the whole software engineer gig and devote my energies to becoming a great philosopher or theologian. What I have learned, however, from reading great philosophers and theologians like Jacques Maritain and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is that I could never be a great philosopher or theologian because I don’t have a really cool sounding name like “Jacques Maritain” or “Hans Urs von Balthasar”. Obviously, some tinkering with my first name is required to accomplish my goal. At this point, it would be easy and tempting to go too far, so I see no reason not to do so.

Growing up, I was often asked where “Jerry” came from, since my official first name is John. When I said it was from my middle name, the person asking would immediately blurt out “Gerald?”. I would answer, “No, Gerard.” and they would make some facial contortion indicating their less-than-positive opinion of “Gerard”. After about the 200th time this happened, I started answering the “Gerald?” question with “No, Geronimo.” The look on their face was worth the coming time in purgatory for fibbing.

So there you have it: Geronimo and Lynda Rumplestiltskin

Of course, with an exotic-yet-authoritative name like Geronimo Rumplestiltskin, my career as a famous philosopher and/or theologian can now commence! Of course, I could spend years studying the great works of classic Greek philosophy, the passion and wisdom of the Early Church Fathers, the stunning intellect of Aquinas, the deep probings of Kant, Descartes, Hume, and Pascal, the madness of Neitzche, the groundbreaking work of Newman, and the wellspring of insight of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, so that I could truly make a meaningful contribution to the canon of human thought and wisdom.......but this would seriously cut into my time watching “The Bachelor”. No, I have decided to pursue the more modernist school of philosophical thought, where I consider everyone who went before me to be a paste-eating moron. My first work of philosophy, in the spirit of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, is ready for publication:

The Purity And Truth Of My Own Thought And How Anyone Who Does Not Reflexively Agree With Me Is A Towering Ignoramus

By Geronimo Rumplestiltskin

New York Times best-seller list, here I come. Oprah, warm up the guest chair.....


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