Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's in a Name?

By Kim Watters

A few weekends ago, my young daughter’s hamster died. Okay, being the loving mom that I am, I immediately agreed to get her another one because there’s nothing cuter than a furry fluff ball of a rodent that can do acrobats on the sides of the wire cage and spin for hours on her wheel. So the other night was the big night. All the way down to the big box pet store we discussed new names.

Keep in mind that I loved the deceased hamster’s name Mousla. It suited the somewhat lazy, okay if it will amuse you I’ll spin on my wheel for you Russian Dwarf hamster, which spent a lot of time eating and sleeping.

Well, my darling daughter decided this new hamster was going to be named Twister. I should have stopped the car right then and there and turned around. No way should I have allowed my precocious child to walk through those big, glass double doors. No way should I have allowed that darling of mine to even look at a cage filled with ROBO dwarf hamsters. The name alone should have sent shivers down my spine. ROBO. I’ve got images of the Terminator flitting through my consciousness even as I write this. A super-stud hamster on a mission to take out everything in its path.

“But they’re so cute, Mama. Paleeze?”

“Oh, honey, let’s go see what the other big box store has.”

“But they’re so cute and you promised.” Foot stomping on ground now. “I want one.”

Okay, so now it’s images of the spoilt brat from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“I know I promised sweetie. How about one of those docile, sleeping ones in this cage?”

“Boring.” My son pipes in. “How about a rat? We can name him Remy, like in the movie Ratatouille.”

“Er, no honey, your dad doesn’t like rats.”

Neither does your mom because they do not look as cute as Hollywood portrays them.

“May I help you?” An unsuspecting Michael approaches with a key.

NO! “May we see one of those cute, little hamsters over there, please?”

“Can I have two?”

“One.” She tricked me. I was in over my head now.

My first clue to my future nightmare should have been when it took Michael a few minutes to capture our new pet. The pet house went belly up. The wheel tipped over. Wood chips went flying as if struck by a tornado-er-Twister.

After we got our fluff ball home, I realized she could jump. Close to twelve inches straight up in the air. And if she got away would be almost impossible to catch. We have dogs that chase anything. Not a good combination, people.

So after some quick internet research, I discovered she might be able to escape through the metal bars of her cage. Not a good thing to figure out AFTER she’s home. Being the kind mom that I am and not wanting to have to attend another pet funeral so quickly, I switched cages with my son’s hamster that lived in an aquarium. Fortunately, the switch-off went without a glitch. So now we can see all the acrobatics, and dervishes this hamster on speed creates.

Or a Twister.

What’s in a name? Isn’t that a loaded question? As a writer, a lot. As a mom, well….lets just say I should have put my writer’s cap on instead of wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Aside from the usual naming books that give me the meaning and the background of a name, my other favorite research guide is Pierre Le Rouzic’s The Name Book. This book contains incredible information on the personality and characteristics of a name.

For instance, in my latest contracted book, the heroine’s name is Ruth. Her highly tuned emotions and high moral code are perfect for the caring and nurturing medical profession she works in, as opposed to say an Andrea or Erica, who would be better suited for a career elsewhere. Or my hero, Noah, a pilot who needs adventure but tends to be on the stubborn side and won’t let go of his son’s death.

A lot goes into naming a character, or a child, or a pet. Somehow Twister didn’t quite make it into Pierre’s book, but I can see the entry if there was one. Highly active, able to climb walls in a single bound, super speed energy without the benefit of caffeine. Kind of like a child I know. And last but not least, a cute, furry fluff ball that will worm its way into the hearts of unsuspecting humans.


Estella said...

Hi Kim,
Been there, done that.
And my kids did have rats. Ended up with lots of rats, because there was a male and a female.

Kim Watters said...

Ugh! Another good reason not to have two of anything. You're definitely much braver than I. I looked at the rats and said no way. Thanks for posting.

Tina LaVon said...

Perfect timing for your post.
I was rethinking my hero's name.

Sorry about the hamster. Cute picture though.

dawn2454 said...

Loved reading your account about your search for your daughter's hamster.
I have two daughters, and over the years they have both had a few hamsters. We started with the very active, and tiny Dwarf hamsters, which were generally friendly. They were amazing escape artists,and generally fast enough to get out of the way of our dog & cat...well at least most of the time. Our cat occasionlly got hold of the one when it escaped from the cage or my daughters hands, and would carry it down two flights of stairs and drop it, then proceed to play with the hamster. Never once was the hamster harmed thankfully. After a number of years of having these, my youngest decided to move on to getting a regular sized hamster. They were a little bigger, and didn't move as fast so there were less incidents of them getting away. The next thought was to get a Teddy Bear Hamster, however by that time my daughter was tired of having to constantly clean the cages and we agreed to let her adopt another cat. Less cleanup, and they live longer!!
If your hamster ever gets loose, I might suggest you use a tin foil plate being put out in the room it's lost in, along with under a piece of furniture ie: the couch, along with a little dish of water.
The pie plate is light and makes a noise when the hamster goes to eat from it, and that's how we located the lost hamsters each time, even after a week of being lost.

Kim Watters said...

Wow. Thanks for the info Dawn. I'll have to remember that little trick. Unfortunately, if it happens it will be in my daughter's room, which constantly looks like a tornado swept through, so we might never find Twister. When my son's escaped, a Russian Dwarf, I heard the thing scratching in his closet. The wall backs up to our bed. I managed to trap it in an old oatmeal container. Can't wait to move onto cats either. Thanks for posting.