Just as painters spend a lot of time doodling, I often scratch out little bits that aren’t stories but are just sketches of ideas. Maybe some element of it will find its way into a story some day, maybe not. I was talking to That Girl about a thematic fiction publication, and I thought of this little snippet I dashed off some time ago. Just for giggles I thought I’d share it with you. The idea of a name and its meaning has been with us since naming was invented, but I have often reflected that the most meaningful names are the ones we give each other.
What it Means to be Tom
Our conversation fell into a lull. He took a sip of his almost-beer and regarded me seriously. “I name you d’rhath boran,” he said. “In your language it means ‘Speaks with sadness.'”
“I don’t know your name,” I said.
“That’s all right. You can name me later. It’s best not to rush.”
“Actually, my name’s Tom,” I said.
He looked at me quizically. “I do not understand.”
“My name is Tom.”
His eyes lit up. “Ah! My apologies. Your language is difficult sometimes. You are naming me Tom. What does this mean?”
It was my turn to be confused. “Tom is what people call me.”
He looked at me intently, then nodded. “You are giving me a name that you also bear. I had not felt the kinship until this moment, but you are wise indeed to recognize it, for it is there. What does Tom mean?” He laughed in his odd wheezing way. “Nothing too bad, I hope.”
“I’m not sure, really.”
He regarded me seriously. “I am surprised and flattered that you should give me such a complex name after such a short acquaintance. I look forward to learning what it means to be Tom.”