IN ROBERT ALTMAN'S "California Split," there is a good scene where one of the main protagonists suddenly shows up following a long and unexplained absence. Wearing a giant sombrero, Charlie appears on scene outside the apartment of his good friend, Bill. Bill, who has been wondering just where exactly his friend has been, greets Charlie with a caring, heartfelt response showing just how much he has missed him:
BILL: WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!
CHARLIE: Three guesses! I'll give you this much -- my hat is a very big clue!
BILL: Why didn't you tell me you were going?! Maybe I would have liked to have gone with you ... you don't know what it's been like here!
I'd like to think -- vanity of vanities -- that Loyal Rant Readers are reacting similarly to my long and unexplained absence from the blog as of late. Sadly, I have not been in Mexico, which is a shame, because I like Mexico. Also, I had a couple of days this week where I would have given my right arm to be in the Glorious Republic. I've just been incredibly busy with work. But I'm back.
During my absence from the blog, I stumbled across a rather disturbing article which addressed a subject Rant readers know is somewhat near to my heart: the proper naming of one's children. Admittedly, I haven't any children myself, but I still am something of an expert on this topic.
As proof of my expertise, I would simply note that my commentary on this subject has been linked by no less an authority than the Dutch edition of Wikipedia. What's that? Well, so what if the page isn't in English? Everyone in Holland can read English, so it still works. Plus, my inclusion in the page's reference materials clearly shows the Dutch are God-fearing, right-thinking people who address this subject with the respect and careful thought it deserves. This stands in sharp contrast to the New Zealand couple whom I am about to castigate with furious justice and righteous anger.
According to media reports from all over the world, the Government of New Zealand has blocked -- at least temporarily -- a couple from naming their child '4real.' Yes, with the number -- '4real.' The Government's action was based on a rule forbidding parents to start children's names with a number, undoubtedly because it would screw up the Government's computer systems and lead to a real-life Catch-22-type incident in which the computers would make the little tyke eligible for benefits regardless of his other circumstances.
But the Government's action has not gone over well with Wellington residents Pat and Sheena Wheaton, the boy's parents. The Wheatons claim they chose the name once they were presented with ultrasound images of the scamp, and the boy's impending arrival hit them like a ton of bricks. Either that or they were both recovering from a downright amazing party the night before, I don't know which.
In any event, Mr Wheaton is not thrilled with the Government's actions. "For most of us," Mr Wheaton told the press, "when we try to figure out what our names mean, we have to look it up in a babies book and... there's no direct link between the meaning and the name. With this name, everyone knows what it means."
Well, there's no denying that, although I doubt Mr Wheaton has considered the meaning that would be instantly conveyed to any and all who met his son: that the boy's parents were not only cruel, but idiots besides. Hell, the boy might as well wear a giant neon sign proclaiming this state of affairs. One also doubts that Mr Wheaton has considered the boy's classmates, particularly in New Zealand's equivalent of junior high school, would be attuned to this and mock the child mercilessly throughout his formative years, leading to endless bouts of therapy and disillusionment as an adult.
If Mr and Mrs Wheaton were so truly concerned about their boy's name being meaningful, they could have made things a lot easier through giving the boy the name of an older male relative. Thus, the parents could simply tell the boy he was named after one of his grandfathers, or some great-uncle, or what not. It seems unlikely that course of action would result in a name that would be as embarrassing as '4real,' and both the boy and his parents would have had an acceptable rationale for the child's naming -- even if the boy's name was somewhat outlandish, like "Wayne" or "Harvey."
Now, it is worth noting the Government of New Zealand has not officially put the kibosh on the Wheatons' plans, but rather is "discussing" things over with the parents. This is the type of milquetoast response one would expect from New Zealand, which is so loathe to taking decisive action that it effectively scrapped its air force some time ago and won't allow nuclear power anywhere within its domain. Thus, there is the very real possibility that this ridiculous name will be accepted. Should that actually happen, I believe the following courses of action would be in order:
1. All the Kiwis who have attacked the United States for its supposed lack of culture should officially STFU.
2. New Zealand should allow our nuclear-powered ships and submarines access to its ports, provided we paint our reactors with pretty flowers and rename the power sources "eco-friendly and sustainable engines."
3. New Zealand should provide the United States with tribute for wimping out on its ANZUS treaty obligations, with said tribute to be payable in yummy, succulent lamb meat. Annual payments of 100,000 lambs seems a fair initial estimate for said tribute.
On a related note, The Rant notes disapprovingly that an Englishwoman has given her daughter a full 25 middle names -- all of which are the surnames of famous boxers. The only saving grace for such wretchedness is that the boxers' names in question are middle names, and as such can be somewhat concealed. That said, I still think it's ridiculous. Choosing a proper middle name is almost as important as choosing a proper Christian name, and it is poor form for parents to waste this on a wretched vanity.Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 24, 2007 09:10 AM | TrackBack