Things (to be named)
How Things Got Their Names
I’ve been wondering lately about how things got their names. For example, why am I writing this on a “Computer” and not on a “Cabana?” That’s because, we’ve all agreed to call this electronic typing thing a “Computer.” Well, I figure that at some time in the distant pass, somebody must have gotten everybody together in the Garden of Eden, and had them agree on names.
This couldn’t have been an easy job. Leaving Headquarters to visit the Field is never easy, and often thankless. In business they say that the two greatest lies in business are: 1. “I’m from Headquarters, and I’m here to help you.” 2. I’m from the Field, and I’m glad to see you.” I’m sure there was at least one joint meeting early on that went something like this:
“May I have your attention, please? Can you hear me all right in the back? Pull in a little tighter, please. That’s it; now just a little more. Good!
You’ve probably seen me around here before, so let me introduce myself. I’m from Garden Headquarters. We’ve decided that it’s about time we got together and agreed on names for all the things we see around us. I don’t have to remind you that we’ve had some pretty nasty instances in the recent past. I’m sure you all remember a while back when the people in Garden East were calling the feeding process “eat,” while people in Garden West were calling it “club” after that thing with the bread they all enjoy. Well, the inevitable happened one day, when a man from Garden West was visiting his brother in Garden East, noon time rolled around, and – well – he did ask to be “clubbed.” It was really tough on everybody, and I don’t think poor Cain will live it down for a long time to come.
Now, let’s agree that we cannot assign all the names in this one meeting, okay? It would just be too confusing. So, to make it a little easier, we’ve developed two names to cover us until the whole process is complete. The first name is “Thing.” Can you all say that: “Thing.” Very good. Now when you don’t know a name, you call it a “Thing.” One more time: “Thing.” Excellent.
The second name is “Huh?” Will you all say that: “Huh?” Say, you’re picking all this up pretty fast. Anytime you don’t hear someone, or understand them, you say “Huh?” One more time now: “Huh?” Super. We don’t want to overwork these two names, but our experts at Headquarters estimate that the average person could get through up to 75% of their conversational day using only “Thing” and “Huh?”
Any questions so far? Any questions at all? Good. Let’s get right to the names.
Can you all see this? I’ll hold it up higher for you. This is a “Tomato.” Can you all say that: “Tomato.” Very good. A Tomato is round, and red, and has a little leafy thing (see how I worked “Thing” in there?) at the top. Any time you see one of these, it’s a…..Tomato! Well done.
Now, look at this one? Anybody guess what it is? It’s an “Apple.” Can you all say…you have a question? Sure, go ahead. Well, yes, it is round, and red, and has a little thing at the top, and I did say that was a Tomato but …. Okay, okay, hold it down, please. We’re going to settle that right now:
We’ll say this: If it’s round, and it’s red, and has a little thing on the top, and it’s soft, it’s a Tomato. But – if it’s round, and it’s red, and it has a little thing on the top, and it’s hard, it’s an Apple.
Are you all clear on that? You all look puzzled. Somebody ask the question. Okay, young man, go ahead and ask. Is that a Tomato you’re holding? Let me see, please. Okay, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here, but that’s a “Strawberry.” Yes, a “Strawberry.” I know, I know, it can be confusing. Let’s say if it’s round, and it’s red, and it has a leafy thing on the top, and it’s soft and it’s large – it’s a Tomato. But, if it’s round, and it’s red, and it has a leafy thing on the top, and it’s soft, and it’s small – it’s a Strawberry. Will that work for everybody? Hold it down, please. What was that question? If you leave An apple on the ground, and it gets soft, does that mean it’s a Tomato? No, it’s still an Apple. Well, yes, I suppose there could be a soft Apple, but …. please, let’s stay together on this.
Yes, sir, another question? You have two Strawberries? Hold them up and let’s see them. Can everybody see the two … oh dear, you’re jumping ahead of me again. Those are “Cherries.” I know, they’re round, and they’re red, and let’s not go through all that again! Let’s just say that if it’s round, and it’s red, and it has a leafy thing at the top, and it’s soft, and it’s small, and it’s sweet – it’s a Cherry. But, if it’s round, and it’s red, and it’s soft, and it has a leafy thing on top, and it’s small, and it’s sour, it’s a Strawberry. Okay on that?
No need to get hostile, people, we’re all in this together. A little courtesy, if you please?
I think it would be better if I checked some of this out with Garden Headquarters before we go much further. I had hoped to get through a couple of hundred names today, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to make it.
Suppose we all get together tomorrow. This time, you bring the things you’d like to have named and that way we’ll get the important things out of the way first. Does that make sense? Good. That seems fair… you have another question? Okay, go ahead. You have a thing with you today that you’d like to have named? Well, okay, but just this one time. Hold it up, please.
You know, this is funny. We have one of those back at Garden Headquarters, and we’ve already given it a name. That’s a “Cat.” Can you say that: “Cat”. You’re holding up a “Cat.”
How do I know it’s a “Cat”? Well, if it has short hair, pointy ears, whiskers, sharp teeth, pretty colors, claws, and it purrs, it’s a “Cat.” Any time you see a thing like that, it’s a “Cat.”
What? It’s hard to hear you from way back there. Do Cats come in different sizes like Tomatoes and Cherries? Yes, I suppose you could have a big Cat or a small Cat. Why?
You’re moving farther back and it’s hard for me to hear you. What? Behind me? What’s behind me? Oh, that! I’ve never seen one like that before, but that is definitely a “Cat.”
Yes, that’s one big Cat, all right.
You people have already named that big “Cat”? Good for you! Headquarters loves it when people take the initiative! What do you call it?
Good name! And how do you know it’s a “Tiger?”
Hey wait, come back…….!