Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, here they are . . .

We like to think of ourselves as progressive in several senses of the word. Politically, yes. Socially, yes. Personally, it gets a little more complicated - our well-instilled Midwestern mores keep us conservative in many ways. So when it comes to the marriage transition, we have mixed and contradictory feelings. I like my name, but I'm also a bit uncomfortable with the thought of forcibly imposing it on my future wife. At the same time, I want our entire family to be unified under one banner. We have friends whose parents combined their last names upon becoming wife and husband, and we admire the sentiment: two equals becoming one new, great thing. Mostly it happens in the classic first sound of one name replacing the first sound of the other name: Thomas and Benson, for example, becoming Thoson. For us, that would mean something like Gyant or Brentzler, neither of which sound particularly appealing.

And so, as a thought exercise, or as a running joke, we have for the past months considered hundreds of random nouns as potential candidates: Pancake, Coffee, Wineglass, Beerstein (The theme should be predictable to anyone who knows us.) As inherited last names, these are great, but to pick one random object to be our last name for the rest of our lives seems arbitrary and runs a large risk of no longer being cute or funny after a few months. We need something a little more us.

So in went our last names to an online anagram generator, and the first word on the list was, regrettably, REGRETTABLY. The union of the letters of our last names seems to be at first rueful and reluctant. As the list continues, it doesn't get much better. The story that would arise from the longest words on the list would certainly be a tragedy: "The BARRETTE only served to ENTANGLE BRAZENLY the BATTERER and the BETRAYER into an ETERNAL TENANTRY." Alone in its possibility of positive connotation, ETERNAL instead erases the hope for escape from this terrible relationship. Instead of moving ahead, we regress and must RELEARN, things don't improve but irregularly ENLARGE, and the ENABLER perpetuates our bad habits. One ENTREATs such a depressing deluge to mercifully RETREAT.

But slowly and tentatively, the words become GENTLER, they become ELEGANT, though it may all be BLARNEY. Slowly, the GENERAL feeling seems TENABLE; we GREENLY and EAGERLY welcome the REENTRY into our story. There's an occasional BATTLE, we may go on an ERRANT TANGENT, but things are definitely BETTER. Who could resist an EAGLET dressed in ARGYLE? Or a sweet, GENTLE GRANNY?

Then we find it, in the middle of nowhere, the thing we see and instantly melt, whether it's on the street or on a list of anagrams for our last names: BEAGLE.

Who could resist?



  1. Nice work, Ryan. But you're clearly missing the obviously more powerful GENTLE GRANNIES! Thanks for writing...what fun reads you guys provide!