We didn’t have a lot of names kicking around right before our son was born, so by the time the little bugger was ready to roll out on a red carpet of slimy stuff–an official medical term, mind you–my wife and I had about two choices remaining. We had an earlier preference for a third name, but one of our friends stole it for her child, so we could no longer make use of ‘Oscar’. Not the fish, not the grouch, not the Goldman (who built the Six Million Dollar Man–keep up with me, folks), nada. I’m sure Emily Post has opined about it, but I’m guessing it’s considered rude to use the name of an immediate friend’s child. Or to steal that same child so you don’t have to go to the hassle of making one yourself. Whatever; Emily’s old and useless and probably dead. But she died politely, so that’s okay.
So, two choices left, and one of them was ‘Rosebud’. Except it wasn’t, but having grown up watching The Dick Van Dyke show, the possibility of transforming “Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David” into one super giant robot name sounded familiar and comfortable. We’d have to deal with the usual Citizen Kane jokes and the not-so-sly anal references, but who doesn’t have to shrug off butt comments on a day-to-day basis?
Down to two names. The first was ‘Holland’. Like the region in the Netherlands, you ask? (As if you didn’t just look that up in Wikipedia.) No, not like that at all. More like the evil middle management lawyer guy in Angel, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off.
Bear with me.
Much as we enjoyed the general creepiness effectively shown by the actor who played Evil Holland, we weren’t exactly inspired by him so much as it sounded like a pretty cool name. Which isn’t to say that we wouldn’t be supportive of our son if he grew up and turned out to work in a law firm acting as a front for all things demony and unholy; we’d just prefer our son be a nice C.P.A. or a bottle cap collector. You know, someone who wouldn’t necessarily work toward an ultimate apocalypse, but maybe some who could make a tidy profit if an apocalypse showed up.
My wife, peacefully circling in a lazy river of hospital baby drugs, left the decision up to me. Either ‘Holland’ or that second, last name. Eventually our son’s head is crowning, he’s clawing his way out, we’re cutting things and pinching things and I’m recording things and people are wiping things and before you know it (but I do know, ’cause I recorded it), one of us is holding a child and some faceless hospital automaton is asking me what our son’s name is.
I didn’t go with Holland. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to do it, and I wanted to be able to say his name without thinking of the evil lawyer guy, but I knew it’d be difficult for me to separate the two and soon I’d be buying him a nice swiveling leather chair, his first suit, a baby’s guide to bringing to fruition the end of the world; and I know that I’d subtly, at first, be nudging him to evil and then, poof! (or Arrrgh!, which is evil for poof!), I wouldn’t be so subtle anymore and I’d be grounding him for not going out to slaughter all the neighborhood cats.
I just want him to be all that he can be. That’s all.
Thus, he’s not a Holland. He has a different name, and it’s not all that evil. Kinda nice, in fact; a little old-fashioned, but it doesn’t bring to mind ponds of blood and lakes of… well, more blood.
Secretly, though? He will always be “Evil Holland” to me.