Day 82 (Daily Prompt) The Name’s The Thing: “PEOPLE ARE A BUNCH OF BABIES, REALLY.”
Prompt: Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.
Most people don’t know this, but in the world of inanimate objects, it is considered most unfortunate —- condescending, insulting, patronizing, however you want to look at it — to be “named” by a person. Labeling, for practical purposes, is OK (e.g., “toilet,” “calculator,” “door”). Even brands are fine. But dubbing a couch “Harry,” a car “Nelly,” etc. — it’s just not good for the object.
“Well, it’s embarrassing at the very least,” Ole Pokey, a pick-up truck owned by the same guy for 20 years, explains to me (via a mechanism I’ll discuss in more detail on another day). “Probably akin to how a dog wearing a sweater feels when he runs into a bunch of other dogs who aren’t in sweaters. Like the other day, we’re at the gas station and the guy yells ‘Back again! Looks like Ole Pokey’s developed a drinking problem. Yuck-yuck-yuck!’ The yellow Mustang and black Yukon just pretended not to hear. And really, that’s a best case scenario.”
The other, unnamed inanimate objects regard the named ones as something very different from themselves, such that Harry is no longer really a couch and Nelly is no longer just a car. They don’t do it out of meanness, but out of a sort of prudence that is a most fundamental quality in objects. “Let it be” is practically a religion for them. And they’ve observed that most of us (all, actually, as the next one I interviewed argues ) have a hard time with that whole concept. In their view, the named objects have become contaminated by the human drama, entangled in our convoluted stories and complicated desires.
“I’d like to say ‘tinker,’ here, to be polite, but I’m going to have to say ‘fuck,'” an unnamed apple tree tells me. “[Humans] fuck with every single thing that can be fucked with. They think just because they can, they should, you know? Bust a move or die! And look what they’ve done with all their MOVEMENTS? Shit on everything, that’s what. They make me sick… .” I decide not to pick an apple. I also decide not to say, “Thank you for your time, Albert,” even though I’m feeling a bit miffed.
In the world of inanimate objects, it should be said, trees (and other plants) are in a special category because they’re alive, but that’s also a subject for another day. For now, I’ll just say that these inanimate objects are among those that are the most disgusted with us, and the reasons for that — again, for another day.
As far as the named objects go, well, what can they do about it really but wait it out, which — as you can imagine — can be an eternity? Lucky for “Corrina,” though, a food processor in a young couple’s household, she knows it can’t last forever, especially with the way they misuse her.
“They never even read the instructions,” she says. “They just tore me out of the box the second they returned from their honeymoon and stuffed me with a bunch of practically whole root vegetables. They do no ‘prep’ whatsoever. Complete idiots.”
When I ask her why she thinks they named her, she shrugs — “Who knows? Maybe some kind of joke about an ex-girlfriend or ex-roommate … you know, named Corrina.” But why name a food processor at all? She is quiet for a long time. “Fear,” she finally says, “of the Big Nothing.” The Big Nothing? “Yes, people cannot bear the thought that they are outnumbered by THINGS, things that mean nothing in and of themselves, things that care nothing for them. People are a bunch of babies, really.”
It’s hard to explain why all of this is unless you’re really in with inanimate objects, and few of us are. I mean, we THINK we are: “I LOVE our new home — it just feels like it was built for us.” “This bike and I have been through so much together.” “I feel like selling that old China is like selling my past.” “This quilt is, hands down, my very best friend.” But really? NO, not really.
Deep down, we know we are better than all of this stuff. And that’s because we are alive. ALIVE!!!!!