Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why Geister?

Geisterhaus is the name of our boy. It was hard to decide on his name. For one thing, we thought up until the day he was born that he would be a girl. We had our pick of the girls’ names: Cakes, Doodles, Angel, Sweetie Pie . . . but divining a boy’s name was much tougher. Would we stick with the popular names that were charming, but not distinctive enough? Bud, Joe, or Stinker? Should we name him Junior after his father, who is also a Junior? What about naming him something we liked—like Sweet Pea—but that was fast being assumed as a girl’s name? No again. The reservoir of acceptable boys’ names was dwindling, and it was our task to find something more original, masculine, than what immediately came to mind.

At last my husband dad came up with an idea: What about naming him after the main character in a game he used to play on his Commodore 64? The game was no good, he leveled with me, but the name just might work for us: Geisterhaus. We could call him Geister for short.

What could I say? Naming my child after a ghost-like character from some lame Commodore 64 game aside, I wondered: Could I shout this name out loud, as though I were calling him at the playground? Did it sound natural to my ears? Did the German-inspired name promise something that couldn’t be delivered? Would others understand how to pronounce the name? Gee-ster with a hard G. Did it sound too much like “geezer”?

I wrote the name out—did it look OK with our last name; did it look harmonious with all our first names clustered together at the bottom of, say, a Christmas card?

But I pushed my hesitations aside, embraced what I loved about the name (its soaring quality, its originality, its strength), and on the day my son was born, without any other major contenders, I cradled him in my arms, looked in my husband’s eyes, and we knew: This was our little boy, our little man, Geister.

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