CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter
Our friends, Michael and his son, Rafael, are getting an Australian Shepherd puppy. They are not sure what to name it. I have an idea.
First, it must be two syllables, for Michael says the names of children and dogs should all have two syllables. I think this comes from the exhaustion of having to introduce a three syllable son every month or two.
Then of course it should be an Aussie name. Sport is a good Australian name, as in “Tie me kangaroo down, Sport.” An alternative for that Australian national anthem is “Tie me kangaroo down, Mate,” so Mate would do, too.
That is only one syllable, but we can get two by simply adding “Old” in front of Sport or Mate. There is a long tradition of giving dogs the first name of Old, as in “Old Blue.” So this puppy can be Old Sport from the beginning.
That is not happenstance. It is to avoid later trauma. If my parents had named me Old John instead of just John, I would not be so traumatized now by being OLD John.
Lest you think there is no social antecedents for naming a person and not just dogs with the initial Old, I point out the cultural icon, “Snuffy Smith,” and his eponymous comic strip. In it, a little baby, the kind that crawls on the floor with a pacifier in its mouth, was named “Ol’ Zeb Potter.” Now, that child will never be discombobulated by getting old. He’s been Old all along.
Bert Muston kept doing standup well into age. His signature line was, “You remember me, Old… Old… Old…” He could never remember what came next, but it wouldn’t have been necessary if he had been Old Bert from the beginning.
The one problem I see is if we are visiting Michael and Rafael and standing in the yard to talk, and Rafael yells, “Old Sport, get your tail back here,” people may think he’s calling to me.
It’s not too late to ameliorate the ravages of age. Just start referring to yourself as Old Maude or Old Zeke. People will pick it up quickly, I suspect. Soon you will think of getting old not as a point of anxiety or decrepitude but just who you are.
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