Arkem: Did you know that I’m leaving tomorrow?
Me: That’s very sad. (Sad face. Thinks.) Don’t.
Arkem: Well played. You are a master of strategy.
I am going to tell you a story. It starts here: I am officially down by one Paul. At least in terms of geographical convenience. I took him to the airport and he flew away.
And then Paul came home this evening, looked at the empty space on the couch and was sad. I got home from the airport, sat on my couch next to the empty space and was sad. Rick… played Psychonauts and cackled gleefully. This may be a coping mechanism.
And then I went online and emailed Paul, which I’d been meaning to do for a few days but I kept getting distracted by Paul. Also Paul, who wasn’t at work, was colluding with Paul to interrupt me. Because they think it’s funny.
This is a true story. Confusing, isn’t it?
There are three Paul’s in my life*: the one I fight crime with, the one who lives with us, and the one people think lives with us but who actually lives in Canberra, Ottawa, San Francisco**. Sometimes when I talk about them people get lost and mix them up. This seems strange to me as they are not in any way similar in my head, other than a certain deplorable propensity for punning. But I do understand the problem.
So this is an appeal to all impending parents. You know how Shakespeare says: a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Good. I would like to add this: a Paul by any other name would be far less confusing to the general populace.
Seriously people, you need to come up with some new names. I’m not saying you need to call your kid Phinneus*** just… Think about it. If you give your child a name that’s too common nobody is ever actually going to call them that so it will have been a waste of time. And if people do call them by their given name it will only end in confusion, mayhem and death.**** The end.*****
* Right now. The number fluctuates disconcertingly. We can only be grateful there are no longer five likely candidates when we get a garbled phone message from a Paul.
** Which, I want you to know I just typed as ‘Sad Francisco’. What is this spoonerism telling us, hm?
*** Props to the friends of mine who spawned recently and got this right. (No, they didn’t name her Phinneus.) With care and aplomb (I’m assuming, I wasn’t there) they gave her a lovely name that nobody else I know already has. (And a middle name that made me raise an eyebrow and think, Have you been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately? Although it’s probably a coincidence. And it’s okay if it’s not. I have a sister who may have been somewhat absent-mindedly named after a hobbit, so I understand these things happen.)
**** It’s possible I’m exaggerating. Not definite, you understand. But possible.
***** Also, and this is important, you can’t just trade in one person for another with the same name. It doesn’t work. And ‘the end’ may be a misnomer. After all, it’s still happening isn’t it? You’re reading this footnote. And given the way they seem to be proliferating you could go on doing that for a while. Or not. You know, not is fine.