I love names. I give names to everything – my car, my cat, my kids, spiders, clothes, and oven mitts. Actually, it’s my Mom’s doing. She started it.
When we were growing up, Mom acquired an oven mitt in the shape of an alligator (or a crocodile – I can’t tell them apart), and we were fascinated with “him.” We worried endlessly about how he would survive going into the hot oven to grab something with his teeth. Mom named him Oscar. Oscar was like a Mighty Crock who could withstand innumerous dunkings into the fires of hell, er, the oven. He was singed, and once even caught fire upon which my Dad heroically put out the fire by throwing Oscar into the dishwater and nearly drowning him. Once he actually made it into the laundry and all the little singed parts became little frayed holes. But he still managed to be the chief pot holder in the family, and the only one with a name.
We had a George, too, who was really all our hoodies for camping – only they weren’t called hoodies back in the cold age of camp fires, marshmallows, and ghost stories. They were plain old sweatshirts with hoods and pockets in the front. We each had an identical shirt and they were only used for camping – so at the end of the summer, Mom would make a show of putting the smallest hoodie into the next hoodie, into the next, until finally Dad’s sweatshirt was enveloping the whole family of hoodies. It looked like a torso and sat in the back of the closet. She named him George.
This was handy other times of the year because if we heard creeks or groans from the house, we all chalked it up to . . . . . . George.
And of course, spiders have names. According to my mother. They are all Fred. Fred lives outside – at least that is where he belongs. So she carefully picks Fred up with a tissue and puts him outside where he belongs. All of my siblings and I learned this very valuable skill very early in our lives. Spiders – all named Fred – belong outside as God intended.
However, if the spider happens to be a Black Widow – then all rules about Fred go right out the window – I mean to say – the Black Widow doesn’t get the same privileges as Fred. The Black Widow is killed by Mom at least 150 times until she is absolutely positive that there is no more Black Widow at all, not a single molecule.
So – I was dating a guy I considered pretty macho and we were sitting on the couch watching a movie when a centipede started marching along the wall behind the television. I thought nothing of it – a cousin of Fred – and grabbed a tissue and gently lifted the centipede and put “her” outside where she belonged. I turned back and here is macho man, with his knees up to his chest, looking like some monster had slithered along the floor under his feet. What? You don’t put your little critters out where they belong?
Anyway – Oscar grew old and frayed and finally was relegated to the back of the drawer of old towels and cleaning rags – the nursing home of oven mitts. I still put Fred out where he belongs.