…You Know; The “Thing”…

Ever notice how inanimate objects tend to acquire names?  For me, it all started with Fred.

I don’t recall anyone in our family ever naming a plant or an inanimate object, so when I discovered that my ex-father-in-law (may his delightful soul rest in peace) called his houseplant “Fred”, I was bemused.  Fred was a Norfolk Island Pine, and, when pressed, my father-in-law said he didn’t know why, “He just looks like a Fred.”

Being the creative sort that I am, I called every Norfolk Island Pine I subsequently encountered “Fred”.  I have a Fred in my living room even as I write this:

Fred. Not the original.

And then there was Rodney.  A few years ago, I was having trouble with voracious sparrows that decimated my garden peas.  The instant the sprouts dared to poke above the ground, those rotten little sky-rodents would swoop in and chow down, leaving nothing but lifeless stumps behind.

So I bought a “scare owl”.  For those unfamiliar with the foolish hopes and dreams of gardeners, a scare owl is a life-sized plastic owl, painted with realistic markings and fierce yellow eyes.  The idea is that smaller birds identify the threatening presence of a bird of prey and flock off.

Yeah, right.

The sparrows perched beside the scare owl on the deck railing, chirping insults and taking turns shitting on its head.  I promptly christened the owl “Rodney”, because, like Dangerfield, he got no respect.

I don’t usually apply permanent names to inanimate objects.  They get lots of temporary names, ranging from “the thing” (as in, “…you know; the thing…” when I can’t think of the correct word on the spur of the moment) to “useless piece of shit” or other less complimentary terms that would require an f-bomb alert at the top of this post.

I will admit to occasionally addressing my cute little blue MP3 player as “my little sweetie” when I’m in a particularly fond mood.  I do love my music.  But if the batteries run down at the wrong moment, it’s right back to “useless piece of shit”.  I’m fickle that way.

Lots of people seem to name their cars.  Friends of ours named their red car ‘Scarlet’, and I had a hand in naming another friend’s new SUV ‘Lucy Blue’ (from Bob Seger’s Tales Of Lucy Blue).

Like Scarlet and Lucy Blue, it’s usually pretty easy to trace the origin of the name.  Even Rodney makes sense once you hear the story.  With the exception of Fred, most naming seems to have some logical basis.

Which is why I’m sure you’ll understand the moniker I applied to the desiccated cactus that’s been languishing on the corner of my desk waiting to be thrown away:

Meet Dick Prickly.

Anybody else name their cars/plants/inanimate objects?

21 thoughts on “…You Know; The “Thing”…

  1. I get that. I went through a phase of calling my mum’s new phone “idiot” as I had been tasked with setting it up and th internet broke (I typed google into Google) so I had to keep turning it off and on again. (If you don’t get the reference watch the I.T crowd. It’s on all 4.) We have a car called nuo nou ( French for teddy bear) as it is cute but growles. A Citroen 2CV called Duffy due to her number plate (DUF) and a 2CV van called pootle because that’s all it can do. Glad to know it’s not just me. Although I often tell my phone off when it does something I don’t expect.


  2. Pingback: Talking Turkey | Diane Henders

  3. Well, ever since the post about hunting the White Whale (www.biguglymandoll.com/?p=1590), everyone in my family and about half the folks in my office refer to my car as the Blackfish. I tend to anthropomorphize objects a LOT, particularly cars and computers. Possibly because, like people, you know there’s a motive force inside, but it’s not externally visible.
    I was about to contrast this with, say, a hammer, and then I remembered that I named my hand-sledge, too. (Baby Molinjar, for the curious.) Perhaps I’m the wrong person to comment on this topic…
    I was going to write more, but I need to take the Blackfish out for a spin, then fire up the Dude and get some typing in before it’s time to water Baby. 😉


  4. Oh XXXX. It’s late and I really didn’t need to see that last picture … now I’m going to have to wait until tomorrow, when I’ve recovered, to write something. Errrrgghgghhhhh



  5. Strangely enough, most of the deroguatory terms you referenced have already been used by my wife, who also claims I am an inanimate object. Useless. P.O.S, included. but she assures me these are terms of endearment.

    Great post. I enjoyed this begining to end. After hearing you’re story of Rodney and how the other bird friends treated him, I am considering changing my user name to the same since people frequently love to sit on my head and defecate as well. sigh!


  6. I have a miniature version of your cactus on my kitchen counter–only about 8 or 9 inches tall, but at least it stands upright. I call it “Vi.” I’ll Iet you guess what that’s short for. 😉


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