Monday, October 15, 2012

Yes, My Kid Has a Funny Name. Wanna Throw Down?

Yes, my kid has a funny name.  No we are not crazy hippies.  No, we didn’t combine three names to come up with this one.  No he’s not adopted from a foreign land (I mean he came from a foreign land but I carried that lump around for 10 months!) No, we didn’t pull his name from the back pages of an obscure baby-name book.  I found our child’s name just like everyone else – by searching the pages of a celebrity gossip mag.  Yes, it is “interesting.”  Yes, I will spell it again.  Yes, it is difficult.  But it is his name and he deserves the respect of you doing your best to pronounce it.  Those of you with regular names who have never had to correct or assist people with the pronunciation of your moniker might never understand.  But those of us who’ve been though it are a bit more sensitive.

Shocking as it may seem, The Midget is not his real name.  I know, this is a scandalous revelation to many.  His name is Teoman (tay-oh-mon).  His name is also not Ted.  Nor is it Montel.   It is not Tailman and it is not Tenmin. (I mean come on people, these are not even names.  Are you even trying?)  It is not Cale (Because a child named after leafy greens is cool but my kid’s name is weird?) And it is not Caleb.  If he likes you, he’ll let you call him Teo but he usually reserves that for family and people under 4 foot.  He’s fickle.  That happens to kids with funny names.

As with many things in a bi-cultural relationship, naming offspring is a rough business.  Do you go with an uber ethnic first name to match the uber ethnic last name or try to split the difference and give him a common and easily Americanized first name?  We didn’t have much of a choice in naming our little half-breed because he was born in Turkey. Turkey, like most nations, is filled with a plethora of arcane and absurd laws to govern the everyday life of its people and those who marry them, one of those being that any child born in Turkey to one or more Turkish parent must have a Turkish name.  A child cannot hold Turkish citizenship without a Turkish name.  Can’t come up with a Turkish name?  Don’t worry, the government will do that for you.  Mehmet for boys, Aysa for girls.  You have five days after giving birth to sign the register acknowledging your child’s birth at the government office in his/her family city.  If you don’t make it, they register the child as Mehmet.  Mehmet teamed with our last name sounds like a Dr. Seuss character, so there was no way I was allowing the Turkish government to name my child.

Choosing a name for a baby is rough but doing it in a second language is ridiculous.  I didn’t want to be too trendy, or too weird.  I didn’t want something that had religious affiliations or geographic  limitations (think someone in Boston naming their son Jethro Bodine) and God forbid I give him a solid Middle Eastern name that 30 years from now is associated with a tyrant (re: all those Turks named Hussein, Genghis and Attila).  Then there is the risk of unknowingly giving him a nerd name like the Turkish version of Herbie or Melvin.  So I limited my name search to areas which I felt might be free of nerds, religious zealots and would-be tyrants – soccer teams and pop music. 

Teoman the musician
We ran though hundreds of names from drummers to goalies. Mustafa (too Lion-King), Burak (too Barak), Emre (too close to Emory – my first bus driver with the giant, hairy ears), Gokay (too close to my husband’s name and no one can ever say his name) Ozcan (too geographical) Serdar (I had a brat with that name in my class – clearly the name was cursed), Tolga (too close to toga) Erhan (no one would ever pronounce it in America) Tuncay (beautiful in Turkish – ugly in English), before finally returning to my first choice – Teoman.  Teoman is a rock god in Turkey known for pushing the boundaries of decency.  More than that, Teoman is a straight-up classic old Ottoman name.  It’s rare but very recognizable to Turks.  My husband, lover of all things Ottoman, was on board with the classic association and I of course was getting to name my child the Turkish equivalent of Elvis.  What a win-win!

However, it has not been easy-peasy.  The difficulties with the Midget’s name began before we even left Turkey.   People were shocked to learn that the blonde toddler with the big blue eyes was saddled with such an old-school Turk name.  They were impressed that he babbled along in Turkish but still confused by the little half-breed. 

Upon returning to America we attended our first library story-time while at my mother’s in Missouri.  Though I repeated it five or six times and spelled it as well, the kind old library lady was absolutely certain his name was Montel.   She introduced him to the other kids as Montel and I was so busy trying not to laugh I was unable to stop her. 

When I accepted a job at a boarding school, the Head of School announced to the entire staff and school board via a serious of memos that I would be arriving with my husband and my son Tailman.  

This fall he arrived at his new school to see his name plastered across the classroom on cubbies, desks and in circle spots as Tenmin.  Jackson, Levi, Sophie, Sadie, Ada, Cooper and Tenim.  His response was simple, “Really Mom?  Really?”

Countless playground episodes have gotten us to Cale, Caleb, Tom and Timmy.

And last week as I dropped him off at his Tuesday Book Buddies group , upon seeing him, the librarian clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Oh Ted!  Welcome back!  We missed you last week.”  Seeing the contorted look on my face she added, “His name is Ted right?” 

“Um no.  His name is Teoman.”

“Oh my goodness.  Why didn’t he say something? We’ve been calling him Ted for weeks!”


Poor old Ted.  I guess by this point, he’s just tired of it all and having the name of a dead Kennedy or a serial killer was better than trying to correct someone’s pronunciation one more time.  

Perhaps we just have to accept that even though we see his name as beautiful and classic, filled with individuality and strength, a constant reminder of who he is and that like his father, his life began in a land far away, in a culture as old as his name, he might not feel the same right now.  He is a Turk and he will always be a Turk but maybe sometimes, when you’re a four year old Turk in America, you might just want to be Ted.  And for that, I love him even more.   

But though he is a Turk, he’s still got half of my genes and those genes will one day be the reason he says – “Yo Lady, my name is not Ted.  My name is Teoman.  T-E-O-M-A-N.  Get it right or I’m gonna screw with your name.  Dig it?”  And trust me, it will happen. It's only a matter of time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Can't Talk, I'm About to Hulk-Out

You know them, we all know them.  She’s blond and adorable with big boobies that don’t sag to her knees and a dream of suburban life with an SUV full of kids.  He looks like a low level college football player who still slips back into his native tongue – frat boy- on occasion.  They have two nice corporate jobs a step above entry level because, thankfully, they had connections.   They have made a few new friends in the workplace but still prefer to hang out with college friends every weekend even though they’ve been in the adult world for a couple years now.  She’s waiting for him to pop the question and while he likes it, he’s in no hurry to put a ring on it.  In the meantime, he’s offered her the tether of cohabitation in the suburbs.  He’s not a jerk, just immature and he did have enough heart to buy her a dog in the hopes of quelling her baby longings - so long as it could be something manly, like a mastiff.  The nicest thing about their grown-up house in a nice tree-lined neighborhood is that it came with a deck and yard perfect for parties. Parties like they had back in the frat house.  Awesome,  bro.

A few weeks ago I watched a fabulously interesting ABC News special hosted by the ridiculously attractive Chris Cuomo (Morley Safer never looked that good!) about Raul Rodriguez, a man who shot his neighbor after repeatedly asking him to keep his party noise down.  Countless neighbors and friends volunteered disbelief that such a thing would happen in their quite tree lined neighborhood where people seemingly liked one another.   Rodriquez claimed he was in fear for his life and used the Stand Your Ground defense.  He lost.  He’s in prison.  At the time, I found it utterly unbelievable that someone could totally lose his mind over neighbor noise to the point of doing something so incredibly drastic and stupid.  That was until Barbie and Ken in the dream house next door began the fall party season.  Raul, now I understand.

The first party was rough.  The music continued until 2:00 and the laughter until 3:00 but I wrote it off as a one-shot thing.  We were new to the ‘hood but it seemed so docile that I couldn’t fathom an area filled with young families, a butt load of geriatrics, an elementary school and a church might in any way become a hot nightspot.  

During the second and third parties they had the decency to cut the music around 1:00 but Lindsey the drunk chick with the whiny voice and testosterone -laden  boyfriend continued to hold court on the deck until around 2:30.  Thanks Lindsey, you rock!

The third party took me a bit off guard.  Things had been quiet for a few weeks and the temperatures had dropped so it was simply too cold for late night beer swilling in the great outdoors.  Or so I thought.   As I prepared the first cold weather comfort food dinner of the season, The Turk stood out on the deck calling my attention to our evening of impending doom. 

“Oh now that looks nice.  Look honey, they put lights all over their yard.  But isn’t it early for Christmas decorating?” 

“Hells yes September is early for Christmas.”  I ran to the deck for a better view, standing on top of the Midget’s tricycle for a bird's eye look.  “No.  No. NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“What?  Why are you screaming?”

                “Damn it Turk!  Those are not Christmas decoration.  Those are party lights!”

“NO! -Turkish profanity - NO!  -Turkish profanity- Not again!”  Now the Turk was pissed.  I momentarily toyed with the thought of fueling the fire and looking on as he went all Midnight Express on their preppy white asses but since he’s in the process of getting his citizenship I decided I’d better keep the beast at bay and handle it myself since they can’t deport my American-made ass.

Right on schedule, just as we settled in for a little family movie time – Hulks of the Serengeti, the Great African Elephant, Barbie dropped a little Lady Gaga and Ken tapped the keg.  It was on.

Doors and windows closed and still the mix of Pop, Rap, Country and Old School tunes poured in to distract us from the greatness of our pachyderm friends.   The Midget grew so hostile he flung some quality preschool profanity out the window at our charming neighbors.  “Shut up you big stupid poop heads! “

Damn right little buddy, big stupid poop heads indeed.

After struggling to get the Midget to sleep against a beer pong soundtrack, I settled in for a little true crime television and a glass, or three, of wine.  That’s when I heard Lindsey again.  OMG Lindsey!  I can’t believe they invited you and that voice to another party!  Perhaps it was the booze, or perhaps it was Lindsey but that is when I began earnestly plotting revenge.  It’s all fun and games until a 40-something mom can’t enjoy her wine and true crime TV in peace .  Now Lindsey, shit just got real.

I didn’t actually have the urge to pull a full-on Raul Rodriguez until I lay in bed and attempted to fall asleep to the robust sounds of Lindsey and friends.  My first thought was just to call the Popo.  I’m 40 now.  I can do things old people would do without shame or guilt.  Plus, they’d never know it was me considering the high number of geriatrics within a six block radius.  What else might the Indianapolis PD have to do on a crispy Saturday eve?  As the music boomed, the clock struck 11:00 and my child had been awakened twice, I determined that Ken and Barbie needed more than a visit from the Popo.  They needed a good old ass kicking – Philly style.

Should I just walk up to the front door and call Ken out for a smack-down?  He might be a frat boy with some girth, but I have a serious load of power in my sizable ass and tree-stump legs.  Being short, I also had a better center of gravity – one hit and he would fall like a redwood.    Maybe I could dress in all black and attack over the back fence like a chubby ninja, so long as I could avoid death by mastiff.  That would take them all off guard and I could overtake the sound system thus shutting the party down.  As I began pacing – to the beat of Snoop Dog no less- I found my plan on the floor at my feet – my son’s Incredible Hulk mask.  I would execute a combo, ninja over the fence wearing the mask then Hulk out on Ken and as he cowers on the ground – I would destroy the sound system and run back into the darkness with speaker wires dragging behind me while sad piano music plays just like the ending to every Incredible Hulk episode ever.  Yes.  This was a perfect plan.  

I began to pull on a pair of yoga pants and a black sweatshirt when the Turk caught me.

“What are you doing?  It’s almost midnight?”

                “Can't talk.  I'm about to go Hulk-out on the neighbors.”

“Oh.  Ok.” And he simply crawled into bed and flipped on the television.  This is the problem with being crazy a little too often, in time, the people who should stop you, stop trying.

And as if choreographed, the minute I was in full ninja-Hulk dress, the red numbers on all five of the digital clocks in our room flashed 12:00,  and the music ceased.  The party-yelps of Lindsey and her crew were muffled then silenced by the sound of a sliding glass door.  


There would be no Hulking-out on this night.


But there’s always next time.    

Oh and Ken, don’t make me angry…you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Monday, October 1, 2012

More Than Just a Big Ass Hider...

As the air begins to chill and the crunchy leaves begin to form unsightly mounds on my deck, the time is once again upon us to dig into the far reaches of our closet and pull out some long lost friends.      No, I ‘m not talking about that strange cousin who, after falling on hard times back in ’89, has been residing in the deepest recesses of your closet and goes by the name of Fritz.  I am talking about fall fashions.  I am relatively certain that every chubby girl in the world lives for this time of year – expect for perhaps those covered back in “Even Pole Dancers Like Comfortable Pants Sometimes” who don’t yet know they are chubby.  But for the rest of us, the chance to cover our jiggle-jaggle with bulky earth-tones is nothing short of fabulous.   For me, my love affair began somewhere around 1979, about the same time I was in third grade and my mother enrolling me in Weight Watchers helped me to realize that my chub was no longer endearing.  Unfortunately in the 30 plus years since then, my chub hasn’t faded much like my love for fall fashions.  I’d like to now take this opportunity to acknowledge all that reasons behind my resilient adoration from head to toe.

Here’s to you big woolly socks.  When you make your appearance I can finally put down the lotion.  Your arrival signals it’s time to let the weekly paint –buff and scrape fall by the wayside until the time my tootsies need to make the rare cold weather appearance.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t use this opportunity to allow hammertoe to take over and grow a row of contractor grade sandpaper on my heels, but you provide a welcome break from an additional bit of primping and give me at least 20 minutes each week back to my life for more pressing things like carbohydrates.

Dear Long Pants, welcome back.  I missed you.  It’s not that I would prefer to spend my life in jeans but the sheer ability to provide full coverage from hip to ankle over every varicose vein and dimple of cellulite is a remarkable one.  While long pants have always been welcome in my life, the addition of a little spandex into nearly every pair now available on the open market is simply divine.  Why didn’t someone think of this back in the first round of the tight jean trend?  I must tell you however, your rein is rather limited to America.  It was virtually impossible to find you in the Middle East and much of Europe.  When I introduced a buxom French friend to you back in Turkey, she assured me that if ever you chose to leave the girth of North America, you would be received with open arms by the growing European asses.  I’d also like to give a brief peck on the cheek to your bastard redneck cousin, the sweatpant who is always welcome to take his turn covering my thighs as well as you’re mixed gene relative the legging.  We’d been out of touch since the late 80’s but we’ve recently reunited and it feels so right.  

And to you Long Sleeves, I’m not afraid to say it.  I love you.  I thank you for keeping that jiggling bit under my upper arm our little secret.  I dare say you might just be my favorite.  I wait with bated breath for the first cold breeze so that I may hide beneath your layers.  You are the answer to every pale chubby girl’s needs.  You hide my pasty skin, gloss over my extra-added midsection and flow over my post-baby hips.  Together with your domestic partner – bulky sweater, you make me feel good again, hiding all that I was forced to unleash upon the world during the hideous months of warm weather.   Welcome home, Long Sleeves, welcome home.  

And finally, festive hats, I salute you.  You are always there when needed to keep things warm and camouflage any follicular foul-ups.  In the rush to preschool in the morning, you take on the fashion burden with only a wisp of assistance from festive lipstick.  You provide sensibly priced trendiness to my painfully classic outerwear, making all that is old new again. 

Fall fashions, to each of you, I hope you know that the further on this other side of 40 I travel, the more our love will grow.  Sure, I will bring in the occasional summertime hussy like a skort or a peasant top but know that ours is just a passing fling forced together by time, temperature, societal norms and eventually hormonal imbalance. Bulky Sweater, you know that if we could be seen in public in the middle of July, I would do it without hesitation.  My love for you is real and though I relegate you to the back of my closet for those few horrific months of warmth, you are never forgotten as I anxiously await your return.