Thursday, July 23, 2015

A few Name Book memories....

from the app
WHY SHOULDN'T I CALL MY SON CLINT? is now close to selling out. At some point a fourth edition will arrive but for the time being edition 3.0 is it. The smartphone app will always be available (WHO ARE YOU - apple. NAME GURU - android, and the app sports a romantic compatibility function, which is even more judgemental than the book.) As we speak, in late July, there are around 200 hardcopies left, and the whole thing has sold around 11,000. Crazy shit eh, and all from a private joke in Mery's kitchen in Cottesloe, Perth, 12 or 13 years ago.

As many of you know I've been selling the book at the Eumundi markets for the past five years, which means, given the number of people I've spoken with, and like all my market colleagues, I could probably get a job as some kind of counsellor, but that's another story.

My books are running out, and in a few months that will be it for me and the book at the markets, so I just thought I'd reminisce about some of the more memorable interactions that have happened over the years. They're in no particular order.....

- I never wrote the book as a baby name book and until the first edition arrived in my lap I never even considered it, but I vividly recall the first time, at my market stall, when a baby was thrust in my face by a beaming parent who said something along the lines of, "G'day Hock. This is 'so-and-so', and you named him!" Freaks me out.

- Probably a dozen times, over the years, a person or a couple has arrived at my stall and read a name on the wall which accurately described their son/daughter (usually a son) who was no longer with us. I never get used to this but they're moments I cherish. Bringing up painful memories was never my intention, but this is life, and remembering those who we love is an important part of being human. In that regard, even if my descriptions have been absurd, the humour with the whole thing is what is conveyed. I've hugged many visitors to my stall in this instance. Bloody bizarre situation when I think about it. But what it does bring home to me, after all these thousands of conversations from people all over the planet is that, as corny as it sounds, the whole thing, as in, this entire life, is about fun and love and encouraging people in both

- Something else I've tried to do, and I'm crap at it, is learn some sign language. This group turned up only a few months ago. They're all totally deaf, and it was a refreshing and odd phenomenon to have so many people in my stall, all completely excited and pissing themselves, but they were totally silent. Just lots of signing. I just stood there and watched, endeavouring to answer an questions I could with very well-mouthed words. The whole thing was a crack up.

-As most people get to hear who arrive at my stall, the best use of the book occurred years ago. A Kiwi couple arrived at my stall, maybe 3 years ago now, bought a book (the first edition), went back to NZ and got married. They had the genius idea of using the book to print up a personalised place mat for all their wedding guests at the reception. I was told the story a few months after the event by a couple who were in attendance. They told me that the immediate result of this was to break the whole thing down and make everyone relaxed and happy, in about 2 minutes. I don't know how the marrying couple did it, as it would have taken ages.
So, if your'e reading this and you have the book, as well as an upcoming wedding, you have my full permission. This has happened at dinner parties and birthday parties, but the wedding is a stroke of brilliance.

-I was asked recently if I've ever offended anyone. I'd say that generally, no, but there have been a few moments that come close I suppose.
With the book about to sell out, I'll come clean. I once wrapped a copy in plastic and hoiked it over the fence of the then Prime Minister's house, Kevin Rudd. It was Australia day, around 2011. I actually waited out the front of the house afterwards waiting for the secret service to show up, which they never did. I don't know what Kevin may have made of his name theory (Kevin is an enthusiastic dunce, and the name of any tourist who pulls his shorts up around his armpits and tucks his socks into his sandals.)
But my website WAS searched the Australian Government. No foul called and thank you Kevin for not arresting me. On the inside cover I believe I signed his book, "Dear Kevin, On this Australia, I'd like to welcome you to the Real Australia."

Another time, back at the markets, a young army veteran arrived. His name was Clint, and he seemed deeply concerned about his name theory, which, lets face it, isn't perfect. (Clint the word is across between two other words involving the female form. (Resultant from the Church, I reckon, who basically hate/fear women, but that's another story.) Anyway, I explained to Clint that the whole thing was an absurd comedy for gatherings of the crew, and he seemed to relax. We chatted briefly about his time in Afghanistan and Iraq, until it occurred to me I was dealing with a very disturbed and troubled young man. I put a hand on his shoulder and handed him one of the demo books, telling him that I wanted him to have it. It's the only book I've ever given away on market day and his reaction was startling. He immediately started to tear up and we shook hands. I'll never forget that.

-One of the most memorable events happened a couple of years ago. Without exaggeration I reckon I've spoken to  around 35,000 people at length about life and everything, but one couple I'll never forget. They were about 60 years old, lived out in western NSW somewhere and it was evident to me that (a) they'd been married for an awfully long time, that (b) they'd spent so long in each other's company that surprise, romance and titillation had long since died and (c) the husband wasn't at all delighted to be at the markets.
After taking a few moments to tell them what I and my stall was about, the husband picked up a demo and flicked through pages to get to his name. Both of them were overweight and not looking all that healthy, really, and because it was reasonably early in the morning, they were the only people in my stall. Well, the husband, whose name I wish I remembered,  read his name and his eyes grew wide, and then he started laughing. And he didn't do it quietly. He burst into these loud, whooping guffaws, bending forward at the waist. Now, that was great, but it was the reaction of his wife which got me the most. While he was bent over, fucking pissing himself loudly, his wife was staring at him, with Her eyes agog, at seeing this man laugh.
In amazement, she looked at me, looked back to her husband, who by this stage was holding out the book for her to read. He was red in the face and in disbelief.
My impression was that she hadn't seen her husband laugh like that for a bloody long time. Years and years, I'd say. It was a beautiful thing, and she pissed herself at his name theory as well. They bought a book, and they were one of the reasons I started recording where people were from, and any weird discussion points we shared.

-Indeed, those stories are the tip of the iceberg. Every market day is a unique adventure.

My favourite name? Probably this guy.....

Anyway, that's about it. My next book is a sequel to Tommy-the-shark. And more on that soon.

Have a cracking day and thanks again all those who have read, bought, enjoyed, loathed and rejoiced in this most bizarre of ventures. I can't thank you all enough.

love Hock

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