I was fixing lunch for my six year old son, Snags, the other day when he asked me, “Mom, how did you and Dad name me?”
“How did we decide to name you Snags?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Where did you get my name?”
I thought this was an interesting question. I wasn’t sure what prompted his interest, but I figured he deserved an answer.
The larger truth is, we just liked the name Snags. The details behind that larger truth are what I explained to Snags. But maybe I shouldn’t have.
“Well,” I said to him, “When your Daddy and I were in graduate school together, we knew a man with your name, and he was a really nice guy, just like you are. So right away we kind of liked the name.”
“And then one day,” I went on, “You’re Daddy and I went out to lunch at a restaurant in the city. This restaurant made their very own brand of beer called Snags Ale. They even had coasters they served your drinks on. They’d bring your glass of iced tea or soda or beer, or whatever you ordered to drink, and put it on a coaster that said Snags Ale. Ale, by the way, is a kind of beer. Anyway, when we saw the coaster it reminded us again how much we liked the name Snags. And I even took one of those coasters home with me!”
“And now,” I said, “We even have these glasses, like the one you are drinking out of that we bought from that very same restaurant, and the glass as you can see, says Snags Ale on it. So you have drinking glasses with your name on it!”
That is when Snags interrupted. “So let me get this straight,” he said. “You named me after a BEER?!”
“Well, uh… not really,” I stammered. “Remember, your Daddy and I liked the name Snags. There was that nice man at graduate school. And OH! also there is a character in a movie with your name, and it’s a good movie too, and so when we saw the coaster with the name of the beer on it, it just reminded us that we liked the name Snags. So you see, we didn’t really name you after a beer.”
“Actually,” Snags said, “You kind of did.”
I guess now that the truth is out I have nothing left to do besides wait for the day that Snags is given a homework assignment to research his name. I can see his classmates standing up to report that “I am named after my grandmother, Mary…” or “I am named after my great uncle Paul.”
So now I’m thinking, that to avoid the inevitable meeting with the principal when Snags stands up to report that his parents named him after a beer, I am going to teach him to recite this:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Snags.
What’s Snags? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a beer. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a beer
By any other name would taste as good;
So Snags would, were he not Snags call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title…
Or maybe I ought to just leave well enough alone.