Names and Other Loves: On Calling it for What it Isn’t.

He called me from the other room.

“Nope!” I said.

My Someone– before we knew he was my Someone– had been playing this game with me nearly since we met.

“No?” he said, “Okay, then.  What is it?”

“I want to be Oatmeal Pickens,” I said.

This got a laugh out of him.  It always got a laugh out of him.

“Okay,” he said, “today you can be Oatmeal Pickens.  Now, Oatmeal Pickens, what do you think about finishing this song?”

We should have been more careful.  The more names that are made, the more you are likely to fall in love.  Everybody knows that.

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One of my favorite pop culture icons wrote in her new book that the nicknames we attribute to the ones we love are signifiers of our deep affection– with our pets being the most loved.  I roll around this idea with my 88 pound pooch, Butter.  My Muttly Crew.  Peanut Butter.  Butterdog.  Buttrocious.  Butterloni.  Butthead.  Butteropolis.  Butt-Butt.  Sleepy Dog America.  Buttey.  Crazy Dog Marie.  Buttey-Pajamas.  Cutie Banana Star.  Buttons.  Snifflesnort.  Monster.  Old Face.  Icky Ticky Ticky Tacky Ickle Doggy.

This doesn’t even tap into the twenties of little ditties and songs written just to taunt and love her.

I’m pretty sure my icon was right.

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When my Someone was becoming my Someone and we were fighting the way that two people fight when they are finding out that they are each other’s Someone and are afraid and excited and nervous and happy, he became too flustered and slipped–

“How do I know what you even want?  You don’t even know what you want!  You don’t even know who you are– all you have is your name, and you can’t even decide on that!”

We were quiet.  We both felt the sting of a hundred moments being picked up and examined and thrown in a basket of What-Isn’t-Fun-Anymore.

“Ouch,” I said.

“Baby–” he started.

“That’s not my name,” I said.  “My name is Mallory.  I know that now.”

My Someone and I often try to find the moment we fell in love, but there are too many.  This moment, though, may have been the one where we realized we had already fallen too far.  If we hadn’t, it wouldn’t hurt so much to take back all my names.

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Toehead.  Begonia.  Matilda-Marie.  Motormouth.  Malillery.  These are the names I would respond to when my dad called them.  I liked them all.  Because when you are collecting names, you are collecting love.  And I was being loved.  And now, I am greedy for love.  So I keep on asking for names.

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He called me from the other room.

“Nope,” I said.

He poked his head around the corner.

“Okay,” he said, “Oatmeal Pickens?”

“Nope.”

“Macaroni?” he tried.

“Nope.”

“Stink-Donkey Koogle?”

“No.  Rolodex Diggadoo!” I said.

This got a laugh.  This always gets him to laugh.  We’ve recovered each name we lost, and are making more.

“Okay, Rolodex Diggadoo,” he said, “do you want to take this little Mush-Button for a walk?”

“Yeah, yeah!” I tell him, “Sure thing, Scott-Scott-Tater-Tot.”

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