Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips, chains — and the lamest of names — excite me.
Just for kicks, call me Moby Dick. Hell, call me Ishmael or almost any other name — but never “Mr. Eskew.” When people address me as Mr. Eskew, I almost always utter a one-word response: “Gesundheit!”
Actually, it’s not names per se that numb my noggin. It’s the arduous task of actually naming a person, place or thing. Indeed, brainstorming names has never been my thang.
Recently I dissembled my third website in favor of building a new blog. I desperately needed to dream up an appropriate new name. New, because currently, to schedule time for cutting my false teeth properly, I’m narrowing my writing output to one genre only, one that reflects my absurdities.
Hard work be damned. You’re a thing of the past. Tick-tock — I need time to swing, baby.
Down with my past writings of theater, book reviews, profiles, previews and sociopolitical commentary. I’m sticking exclusively to my greatest love — writing essays with generous streaks of humor sprinkled within.
But what to name the new site? Alas, I simply lack confidence in my ability to come up with a clever name. With good reason.
When my wife Karen and I bought a grocery store decades back, we wanted a catchy name. Somewhat saved by phonetics, our last name, Eskew, just happened to be pronounced like the “s” and “q” in the alphabet. So, lousy with sophistication, we christened our business SQ Superette, believing it to be the perfect name for our store.
Wouldn’t ya know, a customer soon wrote a note to Karen, spelling her name Q-a-r-e-n, mistakenly assuming that “S” stood for Steve and “Q” for Karen. Most other customers assumed similarly. Henceforth, everyone called Karen by her new nickname: “Q.” Mine was “S.” (Or was it “Ass”?).
So, not the greatest name for a grocery store, but it still beat the beans out of some of the nonsensical names that far less talented business people have concocted.
For example, once during a road trip, when famished, we passed by the small Oklahoma town of Tahlequah. To our glee, we noticed a cafe, but we definitely declined to stop. Why? The sign said Sam & Ella’s Chicken Palace.
Silly me, I would have simply shorten the name to Salmonella’s. Or The Last Supper. Good God, what was their second choice for a name? Fuddruckers?
But who am I to criticize? Duh, it took me 50 years to realize that the name Eskew rhymes with the word “rescue.” Thus, giddy with cunning, I named my former website “Eskew to the Rescue.”
I even promoted the website title with my voicemail greeting: “Eskew to the Rescue; please be leavin’ a message for Steven, as you bask in the assonance patterns within this sentence.”
Even though people loved my voicemail greeting — the first nine times they heard it — the name of the site itself led to insane misunderstandings. People kept expecting me to literally rescue them from the most confounded situations.
Here’s a mild example: One “happily married man” expected me to drive across town and untie him. After he’d struggled to retrieve his phone, he managed to secure my contact info, wailing that his innate weakness for wayward women had catapulted him into the ruins of a Motel 6. Long story short, Eskew didn’t rescue.
How I wish I had inherited my ancestors’ talent for clever naming. Mom’s Aunt Esther, for instance, championed herself the “World’s Greatest Nicknamer.”
She nicknamed her niece Minerva after a flamboyant color — Chartreuse — “because she’s so damn loud.” Another time, after she feuded with a frowzy neighbor, Esther alluded to her as only as “Rigor-Mortis.”
Consequently, my mother was unnerved but relieved that four-year-old Stevie couldn’t talk plainly enough whenever we encountered Esther’s scruffy neighbor and I said “Hi Wiggamotis.”
Unfortunately, my brother Skip got wind of the incidents and dubbed me Wiggamotis. Skip and way too many others still call me Wiggamotis.
In fact, I recently rejected Skip’s suggestion that I name my new blog Wiggamotis. Instead, I name-stormed and several lame titles leaped to mind:
Much Ado with Eskew
Eskew Sings the Blues
Eskew’s Loose Screw
Eskew Skips to the Loo
To capitalize on my numerous eccentricities, I also considered Eskew-tricities for a name.
Finally, I decided that I’d use the blog to focus on my weirdest escapades, punning its name into Eskew-pades. I’m still not satisfied with the name. I need name-storming assistants, please. Help!
Meanwhile, call me Ishmael, call me . . . Oh, heck, go ahead and call me Wiggamotis; shucks, I’m just folks.
But drat the brat! Last week, my bold brother mockingly addressed me as “Mr Eskew.”
“Gesundheit, you 52-year-old rugrat,” I said.
“Oh, sorry. I forgot. You prefer being addressed as His Serene Royal Highness Dr. Steven Jude Thaddeus Eskew. Right?”
I smiled wryly, said, “Congrats, brat. You’ve just coughed up a perfect example of lamebrain name storming. Sheesh.”
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. When asked to take over a theater column at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he began a career as a journalist. This led to numerous publications including theater and book reviews, profiles and Steve’s favorite genre, humor writing. Check out his new humor blog, ESKEWPADES.