The phrase 'lost in a book' does not do my life justice. You can eat, bathe, walk, talk, watch television, set a dinner table, load laundry, stand in a line and stir the soup while reading. If I find myself in line or in-between in any which way without a book--well, I would be somebody else. There's always something seductive in my purse and its fetching back-up in the van. Once during rush hour on the freeway, I looked over and noticed that the driver next to me had a book propped on the steering wheel: reading while driving. This seemed too good to be true! Of course.
When I was about 9, I determined that running an orphanage would be the World's Greatest Occupation because I would name all those babies. See, I had a long long list of luscious names and my dolls just weren't making the number: I needed legions. I loved Charlotte, Jo, Amy, Fern, Rhett, Scarlett, Blair, Margaret. Notice that theme?
The summer before I turned 10, I read The Exorcist and Gone With The Wind, in that order. In secret. For better or worse, those narratives shaped my world view. I named my one and only daughter Scarlett. Her middle name is a big kiss to John's mother, Sophie. And yes, the summer before I turned 10 I had nightmares and felt the value of a rosary in a way that all those years of Sunday school couldn't quite engender.
My own name has been a solid and enduring disappointment. Not only did Mary droop and sputter next to the ethereal Heathers and melodic Melanies of my youth, I had to share with everyone: my great-grandmother and my mother were both Mary as was every third girl on the block and in the pew. I have since learned that Mary and its derivatives form the most common female name on the PLANET.
John and I named our first dog Thurston. At the time, I was a graduate student in English. One of my professors queried: "How lovely. After Thurston Moore, the 16th century eligist?"
Gilligan's Island, of course. Can you begin to comprehend my pain over Scruffy, the unfortunate selection our latest family member arrived with?
Doesn't he look like a Caspian? I pitched that name like a pro. Pretended he had somehow mysteriously been christianed thus and dropped fascinating observations about Caspians throughout time and planet. But the children morphed into small brick walls, boxed and impenetrable. Scruffy came with his name and they both stayed.
Stryker was a whim. Exactly nine months before our oldest child was born, John and I drank a bottle of wine and decided not to use the diaphragm just this once. If it was meant to be and all that. There was some degree of sobbing and shock about three weeks later. We selected a name with similar protracted debate. Our (old) address? 978 Stryker Avenue. The deal was done. John said, Stryker, boy or girl. I knew better. Scarlett was in my blood.
Our third child went a week without a name because I chose Elvis. John dug in his heels in horror. If the baby had been a girl, she would have been Emory Frances. Reader, you may use that name. It gives me physical pleasure: Emory Frances. I whisper this in my children's ears every night as guerrilla war fare for grandchildren, even though none of my three have hit puberty. This is serious.
Finally, we gave Stryker and Scarlett a short list of possibilities and let them choose: Merrick, Evan, Merritt, Emory, or Ellory. They chose Merrick.
Two weeks later, I introduced our new baby to a neighbor. He said (soberly), "Oh. After Merrick on the Yu-Gi-Oh show?"
Turns out, yes. It's spelled differently, but that's exactly who the two had in mind when they named their baby brother. I had picked names from the Social Security Administration's list of baby names for 1915. That seemed like a good year, before things got too crazy.
Trumped by Japanese animation.
No woman could have enough children to satisfy my lust. Evan (for a girl, especially), Deirdre, Christian, Ellis, Louis, Drew and Adele. Renate (German), Ginger, Alan, Theodore, Jed. That's the preface to the introduction to the list of names I love.
There will always be the one(s) that got away.