The Name’s the Thing
“Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.”
My children’s father is an engineer. He is also a dreamer, often disappearing into his own thoughts for hours, switching off from the real World while he designs rotary engines, or the perfect irrigation pump, or imagines himself in arguments with a client over unpaid bills. I would chat away to him, often about inanities – the characters in a book I was reading, the dream I had last night – but sometimes about important stuff like school fees and where we were going for our next holiday. After a while I would notice I was getting no response, not even an occasional grunt. I would look over at him, notice the glazed look in his eyes and realise I had been talking to myself. Again. He does this all the time, to everyone, so I shouldn’t have taken it personally – but I often did.
A few years ago when my youngest son was about 10 years old he and his Dad went on a road trip through Mocambique. It was a very long journey and after about the fifth hour of one-sided conversation Last Born came up with an ingenious plan. He dug around in the suitcases and found a pair of socks. He named the socks ‘Dad’, propped them up on the dashboard and continued talking, happy he now had someone’s undivided attention.