Shakespeare’s famous question was front and center in my mind when I headed toward a new (to me) lift at Deer Valley. I had ended up on an unfamiliar run and hockey-stopped to ask a fellow skier what its name was. “Hawkeye,” he replied, and M*A*S*H popped into my head. “You can go to Empire Lodge or Lady Morgan lift from here,” he continued, before sailing down the fall line. I’d been to Empire Lodge recently, and Lady Morgan appealed to me since I hadn’t yet skied that part of that mountain. I followed the signs toward it, which entailed a short spell on a run named “Custer.” It was an Easy slope, so designated by its green circle, but I couldn’t help wondering if it was going to be a last stand for me, since I believed Lady Morgan had more than its share of Expert, black diamond slopes. I’m glad to report all ended well.
Lately we’ve been talking about names in our family, since we’re expecting another grandchild from our son and daughter-in-law, who in the past have favored biblical monikers, like Elijah and Isaac. It appears that a girl is on the way this time. Which would you pick between these two: Deborah or Jezebel? Even if you’re not a student of Scripture, you probably know that Jezebel has a negative connotation (it means “impure” in Hebrew) and Deborah does not; the latter means “bee,” which implies the sweetness of honey, or even “queen bee,” appropriate for a prophetess who led troops into battle and wrote a famous song of victory.
It isn’t just about literal meaning, as I indicated earlier with “Hawkeye” and “Custer.” Association is the name of the game, pardon the pun. Who (of a certain age) can say, “Surely you can’t be serious” to someone without anticipating the response, “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”? Sadly, brilliant actor Leslie Neilsen passed away last November, but hilarious Dr. Rumack will always be with us.
I paid attention to the import of names when writing my novel, Slippery Slopes. Some characters’ names came out easily with appropriate meaning, while some needed tweaking. One needed a complete overhaul, because I had given a weaker character a name of strength. Whether or not you’re a writer, the next time you pick up a piece of fiction, linger on the names of the characters a bit. You’ll find that the Bard might have been missing something, after all.