Monday, October 15, 2012

"A Post Whose Title I Can No Longer Remember - The Sequel"


A ten year-old (stepdaughter) Rachel is passenging in a car driven by her mother, as they pass the Department Store, Robinson’s.

“How did that store Robinson’s get it name?” she inquires.

“It was named after the store’s founder, whose name was Robinson,” replies her mother.

“No!” roars back Rachel, in disbelief.  “It was named after a person! 

You can imagine little Rachel’s even greater dismay when she learned that the same rationale was behind the naming of Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Penney’s and Neiman-Marcus, the latter named for two people.

A child’s innocence aside, it is not unusual for retail emporia to bear the names of their founders.  It may surprise you , however, to learn that the “Name Game” goes even further than that.  Everyday actions and activities are also named after their originators. 

The name of nineteenth-century Massachusetts Governor Edbridge Gerry is forever linked to the process by which voting districts are strategically configured to attain a desired electoral result, the activity known even to this day as Gerry-mandering. 

Franz Mesmer, an early theorist in studies related to hypnosis is represented by the still current descriptive, “mesmerizing.” 

It is also a fact that the (Northern, and not very good) Civil War general Ambrose Burnside – they flipped it around but it’s unquestionably the guy – originated, or at least greatly popularized, the hairstyle accessory known as sideburns.

And then there's General Hooker.

These are precedents, demonstrating that words in common usage – or at least we’ve heard of them – derive, not only from ancient languages like Latin, but also from the behaviors or characteristics of (once) living and breathing people. 

With the strength of the foregoing evidence as precedent, scoff not too easily, as we chronicle the following:

Auguste Mirage – “Now you see him, now you don’t.”

Albert Miniscule, a fully-grown man was one foot eleven inches tall.

Theodore Stumble could not walk ten feet without losing his footing and toppling to the ground.

Horatio Fumpher – “It sounds like English, but I cannot, for the life of me, make out what he’s saying.”

Bridget Fidget was congenitally incapable to sitting still.

Henrietta Fussbudget would enter, uninvited, into people’s kitchens, and rearrange their spice cabinets.  (See also:  Alicia Busybody.)

There was this miscreant, I believe, Irish family, who were notorious for skipping out without paying their rent.  The name of this absconding family:  The Skeedaddles.

Annabelle Hussy – “Melinda-Fay Weatherby, you are a brazen hussy!  “Are you saying I’m like Annabelle?”  “You’re worse!  Future generations will reward your disreputable behavior by forever describing it as Weatherbish!”

Anatole Suffoc was the first person known to have done in a loved one by pressing a pillow over their face.  From then on, anyone dispatched in a similar fashioned was determined to have been Suffoc-ated.

Elwood Flabbergast – was so “flabbergasted” by indoor plumbing, food had to be brought to him, while he stood over the newly installed apparatus and continued to flush.

Aloysius Flimflam vies for dictionarial immortality with the equally devious Cyrus Scam.

Though hardly the first of his persuasion, Augustus Philander enjoyed the company of women who were not necessarily his wife, and the moniker seemed to catch on. 

Though Mosey Brown’s house was on fire, still he just “Moseyed” out the door.  (The opposite in this regard:  The Scurriers.”)

Jefferson Bamboozle was constantly fooling people.  In fact, that may not really be his actual name.  (See also:  Alonzo P. Alias.)

Men’s clothing-store proprietor Samuel Haberdash coined the word himself– “Hey, they call where you eat an “eatery”, don’t they?”

During Prohibition, Gus Bootlegger was the first lawbreaker to smuggle contraband “hooch” in from Montreal.

A family whose troublesome children are obstreperous and rude – Meet the Whippersnappers.

Marilu Pester simply would not leave people alone.

"High hopes followed by thudding disappointments" delineates the sorry history of Jeremy Fizzle.  Every plan and project inevitably fizzled” out.

The Lollygaggers, of Biloxi Mississippi, finished first in a national “Taking Forever To Get Someplace” contest, narrowly defeating the Meanderers of Pierre, South Dakota.  One Sunday morning, it took the Lollygag family an astonishing three hours to walk from their home to their church, a distance of less than two-and-a-half blocks.  (The Lollygaggers placed the blame for their snail-like progress on the Chatterboxes whom they ran into along the way.  But many believe they were deliberately going for the record.)  

More to come when I think of them – I mean, when I assiduously uncover them in my research. 

In the meantime, you may feel free to contribute.

3 comments:

lillispad said...

I wonder what future generations will whip out their Pomerantzes for...

Anonymous said...

Thomas Crapper

Earl Battey said...

"By 1934, (Jimmy Durante) had a major record hit with his own novelty composition, "Inka Dinka Doo," the lyrics of which were written by Ben Ryan[4] to music that Durante himself composed. It became his theme song for the rest of his life. A year later, Durante starred on Broadway in the Billy Rose stage musical Jumbo, in which a police officer stopped him while leading a live elephant and asked him, "What are you doing with that elephant?" Durante's reply, "What elephant?" was a regular show-stopper. This comedy bit, also reprised in his role in Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962, based on the 1935 musical) is likely to have contributed to the popularity of the idiom 'the elephant in the room.'"