First You Die, Then You’re Buried, Then Someone Says Your Name For The Last Time
Start simple. Say all the names you can think of in all the combinations you can come up with: last names as first names, first names as last names, two first names, two last names. Throw in some middle if you feel more confident. Try looking in your cupboard: names galore. Betty, Hines, Trader. Crocker, Duncan, Joe. Mix them together. Take a walk and stick names you get off of store fronts to street names. The more names you can find, the better: history's put a lot of people in the ground. So find out what the Smith of Tanzania is. Google names of the ancient Xiongnu. Learn your ancestors' names. Say these names you come up with out loud, with intent. Like you’re greeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. And if you hit on a name you recognize, like let's say Elle Macpherson, delete the image of the Australian supermodel out of your head and just aim the name out there blankly for the other Elle Macphersons no one took note of. The cosmos will know what you meant. Learn about locative names. Patronymic names. Occupational names. Have a cocktail and make all the grunts and vowel sounds that Neanderthals might have called each other. Walk the dog and smash syllables together: is Torbulshammy Butterchristmas ridiculous? Or did you just keep someone alive? And don’t forget: there are lots of unimaginative people—or hipsters—who name their children things like Salmon, or Cup. You’d want someone to do this for you, right? To remember you? So you can outlive the paltry crumble of corporeal years you’re allowed in a universe that’s too old to remember its own creations? Also: birds. Birds make good first names. Cars can be first or last names. Try them out. States, provinces, countries. Words. Just say words together. You’re bound to give someone more time here, someone who was almost lost forever, like a flower no one saw bloom.
About the Author
Timothy C Goodwin has work included in Maudlin House, The Centifictionist, All Existing, Every Day Fiction, and elsewhere. He lives in NYC with his partner and their dog, Awesome. @timothycgoodwin