Almost exactly 40 years ago today, I bought my first brand new car – a 1969 AMC Javelin. The Javelin was a “pony car,” the same class as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
As you might suspect, the Javelin was one of my favorite cars, so much so that upon graduation from Aircraft Maintenance Officers school in Illinois, I appropriated the name “Ferelda” for it from a classmate, who used the name for his car.
From that moment on, I felt I had a special relationship with the car. Now I learn that my experience wasn’t unique, that giving something a name transforms our relationship to it. Blogger Michael Margolis writes that a study by Newcastle University found that cows that were given names produced more milk than unnamed cows.
It all makes sense. You wouldn’t feel the same about an animal called “dog” as you would if the same animal were known as Lucky or Muffy. My son lived in a house in Durham, England, that was known to the postman as Coronation House. Surely that’s better than 123 Avenue XYZ.
When a friend and former colleague of mine, Chuck Offenburger, and his wife, Carla, bought a farm in Greene County, Iowa, they named the place Simple Serenity Farm which is a hoot and a holler better than Rural Route Whatever.
When we humans attach a name to something it’s our recognition that this is something special, something worthy of our special label. There’s no way of determining exactly when we started calling one another with something beyond a “Hey you” grunt, but it was a welcome change. Just imagine your family tree without names.
Writing prompt for the day: What names did your family use to identify animals or objects? How did they pick them?
Flickr photo courtesy of James Cridland.