Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's in a Name?

Rainstorm in the English countryside
"This is all your fault!" my unsmiling neighbor leveled at me yesterday as we crossed paths while picking up moss, limbs, and other grungy debris strewn across our yards.

"My fault?"

"Dang storm's named after you, isn't it?"

Oh. I suppose it is.

This wasn't the first time I'd heard my name taken in vain since the arrival of Tropical Storm Debby earlier this week. She arrived in a snit and decided to hang around annoying Florida all week, pounding us with rain, high winds, mayhem, newly opened sinkholes, closed roads, property damage, canceled plans, flooding everywhere, and lots of great headlines that make me somehow feel responsible:
Go Away Debby!
Damage in Debby's Wake
Debby Scary, Even From a Distance

Now, my head knows these unpleasant sentiments are not about me, but for some reason my gut takes them personally. Like everybody in my state hates me. And can't wait for me to leave.

I hear people all over muttering the name Debby in hard, angry tones, and I feel like I should apologize to ... to someone. To everyone. I don't know.

Who chooses storm names, anyway? Why couldn't they have named the thing Dipsidumquat? (That's pronounced dip-si-dum-quat.) I bet there's not a single Dipsidumquat in the state who would be the least bit offended. Heck, they'd probably even be flattered.

But look at all of us Southern Debby's. And Debbie's. And Debi's. We're not flattered. We're not amused in the least.

It's not like a whole rash of new babies will be named Debby, reminiscent of the phenomenon that happens when a name suddenly becomes famous, like Madonna ... or Pippa ... or Barak. Well, maybe not Barak.

But the point is, instead of popularizing a name by plastering it all over the media, it actually depopularizes a perfectly good moniker when a storm is named after you. Not good for a writer/speaker who is trying to get her name out there. In a positive way.

I wouldn't be surprised if traumatized Floridians don't wince, shake their heads, or spit in the dirt whenever they hear my name for the next six months. Maybe even years. Hope my book sales don't take a dive.

But perhaps that's preventable.Maybe it's not too late. I need your help.

Will you join me in my grassroots campaign to begin referring to this unfortunate name-destroyer as Tropical Storm Dipsidumquat from now on? If enough of us do it, maybe it'll catch on with the media and fine citizens of this fair state. Go ahead - practice it a time or two until it rolls off your tongue slick as buttered okra.

Okay, I'm heading out right now to see if I can name-drop a little with my irate neighbor. Hey, come to think of it, his mama's name is Dipsidumquat ...

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