Don’t name your child a weird name. But on the other hand, don’t name it something boringly bland. Like Bob. It’s so generic, so overused, so – umm – bob.
We named our daughter Patience. Unusual, yes, but it has a good story. Most of the time people think it is unique, they comment on how pretty it is, and – best of all – they know how to spell it. Even with this name there are occasional misunderstandings. My wife was speaking to our daughter’s pediatrician’s office not too long ago. The conversation went something like this:
Possibly tired secretary: What’s the patient’s name?
My wife: Patience
Possibly tired and deaf secretary: Right.
– – Pause – –
My wife (having fun): Patience.
Possibly tired, deaf, and ditzy secretary: Yes, the patient’s name.
My wife: Patience Bixby
Possibly tired, deaf, ditzy and ought-to-be-fired secretary in exasperated tones: Yes ma’am. Now what is the PATIENT Bixby’s first NAME?
Other than that, we have very little problem with the name Patience besides the square-peg-in-a-round-hole feeling I get when I holler in an irritated voice, “PATIENCE!”
The name “Bob” is different. The other day my wife and I accompanied the singles from our church to a Steak ‘N Shake. They were advertising some kind of apple desert with a penetrating question, “Why Bob?” Clearly, they were proposing an alternative way of procuring apple nourishment for one’s self than by the popular all-American choice of bobbing, a method of sloshing one’s face in other peoples’ slobber unless you’re the lucky one to be first. But I couldn’t help but feel personally attacked. Little do they know how much I have agonized over this very question. “Why Bob?”
There are too many bobs. Consider Bob the Builder and Bob the Tomato, not to mention the dozens of comic characters named “Bob.” There is even one named Bob the Angry FLower. A few years ago, Belgium launched a nationwide (granted, that’s not a big project) campaign against drunk driving encouraging everyone to get a BOB (pronounced BOHB), the name they chose for the designated driver. BOHB appeared on billboards, key chains, and bar menus. The questions were, “Where is your BOB?” and “Are you being nice to BOB?” Bob was everywhere.
Lest you hear that there is an underground movement called the “Bob Revolution,” don’t believe it. It’s only a reserved trademark of a baby stroller. Now the airwaves are jammed with Quizno’s® twelve advertisement spots which feature A LITTLE GIRL (Argh!) pretending to be a little boy named “Baby Bob.” So Steak ‘N Shakes’ question resurfaces: Why Bob?
I doubt that the reason is because the name is aurally sensational. Have you ever heard a beginning reader pronounce bob? “b ə – AH – b ə.” Not pretty. Trust me. No, I think it is because of the collective weakness of bobs worldwide. We have allowed our name to be abused. It is probably so damaged that there is no hope of recovering it’s dignity. (Was there ever a King Bob I or King Bob anything?) I have to admit that as BOB as I am, I was somewhat pleased to see that Bob Jones University acquired a president without the name “Bob.” Stephen with a PH sounds so much more academic than just Bob. The only advantage to the name “Bob” for them was the corny little ditty that the university was under the leadership of “Bob the father, son, and third.” Other than that there was no real advantage to the name “Bob.”
Yet, there are some advantages to the name. After all, it is easy to spell. I used to tell kids that my name was cool because you could spell it backwards and forwards the same way. It was a great warm-up joke for story-telling time with the kids until one eight-year-old smart-alec announced in pretentious and condescending I’m-the-smartest-nerd-in-the-room tones that it was not so. The name Bob, pontificated he, was spelled CAPITAL B – o – b. In my sweetest bob-is-not-a-really-cool-name, defeated tone I conceded to his genius, complimenting him on his alertness for grammatical accuracy, all the while smacking his face internally. Of course, even “bob” can be misspelled. I was a little bemused (I’m so oversensitive) when my sweet niece put her newly acquired writing skills to work and made a special birthday card just for me: “Happy Birthday, Uncle Boob!” Now, she’s was just learning to write. She idolized me. But how, pray tell, can anyone correctly spell “birthday” and spell B-O-B b-o-o-b IN THE SAME CARD unless there is – – as I am beginning to suspect – – a subconscious prejudice against the name Bob in the psyche of our culture?
The one other advantage for the name Bob is the unique illustration it can become of a very important hermeneutical concept. It’s not just a name. It’s a word with many definitions. I have heard many preachers preach whole messages based on the meaning of a word in a particular text of Scripture and miss the intended meaning of the author. They are forgetting the versatility of words. “Bob” illustrates this point. The important concept to remember is this: just because you know an accurate definition of a word does not mean that you have necessarily captured the intended meaning of the author.
Now for the illustration. I prepared this for an Inductive Bible Study class in our church. They were assigned the challenging task of interpreting the following letter. There are not dumb redundancies (although the letter is dumb). The thoughts are cohesive. Have fun.
Are words important. I think so.
Bob was a bobber who bobbed his bob in a bob before the annual bobbing event which would include bobbing, bobbing, and sadly bobbing. His sweetheart would be there, her hair in a bob, having paid one bob for a bob, but to Bob that was merely a bob when she sweetly bobbed to him (Bob that is). Any bobber who wishes to bob with Bob in his bob only pay one bob without worrying about being bobbed. However, be careful because bobbing increases the risk of bobbing which irritates bobbers who usually end up bobbing Bob the Bobber with bobs. I,Bob, therefore suggest that if this bobbery has bobbed suddenly on you, bob graciously before I, Bob, bob you.
I eagerly await your interpretations.
Filed under: Things I have learned |