Because We Say So

Sept. 22 - I was going to write something almost nostalgic about my parents' first visit with their new granddaughter, but I'm going to hold off on that for the time being. Firstly because they still haven't been gone long enough for the nostalgia to kick in, secondly because this whole naming law thing is really beginning to make me crazy.

Trine has finally written and posted her letter to the "kirkeministeriet" explaining our apparently troublesome desire to name our daughter Molli. It is more diplomatic than my own letter was.

"The most important reason for our choice," she writes (in Danish), "is that we think it's a sweet name that suits her just right." That's more or less all I've wanted to say all along. But then she goes on.

She explains that we thought the spelling of "Molli" was a little more Danish than "Molly." She observes that since our daughter is half-American (or will be if she ever gets the Danish naming certificate required to apply for an "American Born Abroad" certificate from the American consulate), we thought it would be nice, should we someday return to America, that her name reflect a little of her Danish origin.

She even goes so far as to explain that because the spelling of "Molli" corresponds more readily to Danish pronunciation than "Molly," the name will be easier for her to spell, which will strengthen her self-confidence and self-esteem.

How low must we stoop?

I find the whole thing embarrassing. Bad enough we have to get government approval to name our own child—but to be forced to such levels of obsequity, such nauseating bows and scrapes to the capricious whims of some low-level, presumably unelected functionary—but what am I saying? Would it be any better if it were an elected official? If it were the prime minister himself? The queen? No, no, no, a thousand times no! Every American fiber of my being is in riotous revolt against this process, this abomination, this disgusting distortion of government. I can be as adolescent as the next guy about some things—can be a pampered, whiny American, a spoiled child of our blessed affluence—but I think have legitimate grounds for outrage here.

The strangest thing of all to me is the indifference with which Danes shrug it off. This is a country where just a few years ago there were massive strikes because five weeks of annual vacation was deemed insufficient—the unions demanded six. Six weeks of vacation, dammit! Outraged workers struck and marched and shouted into the television cameras.

The same people who rose to rebellion for longer vacations aren't troubled in the least by this tyrannical power of their government to determine what they may and may not name their children.

Forget Mars and Venus: this is the real gap between Americans and Europeans. Europeans look at a problem and say: "How can the government fix this?" Americans look at the government and say, "This is a problem."

* * *

Today is the first day of autumn. By happy coincidence, it's also the first day of fall.

Many people are disturbed by the changes they see around them at about this time each year. The sky darkens earlier, temperatures drop, leaves change color and die, and the Red Sox drop out of playoff contention. It can be unsettling, especially if you're not a big Yankees fan.

There have been myths about the changing of the seasons as long as there have been children to lie to. Some primitive peoples believed that leaves changed color because Nature was pining for her abducted daughter. Others blamed it on the seasonal absence of sunlight-fed chlorophyll allowing xanthophyll, carotene, and antocyanin to determine leaf color. We may never know the truth.

The first day of autumn is sometimes also referred to as the "Autumnal Equinox." Don't be alarmed by the title. It's just fall. We can get through this thing.

* * *

The preceding bit about autumn is for my American readers. Here in Denmark, fall began in mid-August—about twelve days after the last day of spring.

* * *

Today's birthdays include Scott Baio (1961), Joan Jett (1960), Nick Cave (1957), Debby Boone (1956), and Tommy Lasorda (1927).

Today is Independence Day in Mali and Princess Martha Louise Day in Norway.

Happy Hump Day!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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