where the writers are
What's in a Name?
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

At first she had asked Jason about the naming of their children, but he “didn’t give a shit” about the naming of his brood, not when his own parents had saddled him with a name that forever begged the question, “Are you, like, an Argonaut?”

So Violet had taken over the naming, giving each child a name that “just seemed to fit” their physical appearance and her dreams for them. Their first child, a boy, was long and lean.  She thought he’d make a good wide receiver one day, perhaps help her beloved Redskins get back to the Super Bowl, so she named him Lexus, after a car she saw in the parking lot at Kroger’s. Lexus LaRue just had a ring to it, a wide receiver ring, she thought. Lexus, of course, had other ideas, opting for a life as the lead singer for the rock band Sexus and the adulation of teen girls shouting, “Sex us, Lexus” at every concert. He was more than happy to comply, ending his life with an overdose of designer drugs while in bed with three 15-year-old girls.

Violet was devastated, but Jason just said, “I never really liked Carl.”

“Carl?” she said. “Who’s Carl?”

“Lexus. I always thought of him as Carl.”

Their next child, also a boy, was short and plump at birth. Violet imagined him with a cigar in his mouth and thought he’d one day be a billionaire businessman, a man referred to by his initials only, so she named him LG after her refrigerator. Turns out the name just led to the endless repetition of the same question—“What does LG stand for?”—so LG quickly developed anger management issues and led a life accented by explosive outbursts and extended prison time.

“I always told you he was a no account bastard,” Jason said, corn spraying from his mouth as he near choked at the dinner table.

“Oh, fuckin’ shut your face,” said Violet. “What do you know about anything, anyway?”

“I’m just sayin’. Peter was always a problem, right from the start.”

“Who in shit is Peter?’

“You know, LG. I always thought of him as Peter.”

Their third child, a beautiful little girl with a shock of red hair, had an exotic look, it seemed to Violet, a look that she just knew would lead to her child’s stardom as a singer or an actress. So Violet named her after their laptop. The name seemed perfect. Toshiba rose to some fame, too, although on a smaller stage, a stage with a brass pole in the middle, surrounded by men waving dollar bills.

“I just knew this would turn out badly,” Jason said, pushing his peas into his mashed potatoes.

“Knew what would turn out badly?” Violet said, exasperated by Jason’s increasingly strange comments that seemingly came out of nowhere, or at least left field.


“Who in god’s name is Wanda?”

“You know, Toshiba. You name a child after a laptop, you gotta expect her to turn to lap dancing.”

“Jason LaRue, you say that one more time, and I’ll slit your throat.”

“I’m just sayin’.

And those were his last words. Violet was glad to be rid of him, and didn’t have a thing to say at her trial. She just sat there, staring blankly ahead, thinking about the headlines in all the newspapers and the teasing she had endured as a child.

“Are you a flower, Violet?”

“Are you a color, Violet? You don’t look violet.”

They would laugh at her, and that made her mad. So she had hurt them, hurt them bad, which had just led to more teasing and more violence.

“Here comes Violent Violet!”

“Violent Violet! Violent Violet! Violent Violet!”

But then Jason had come along and saved her, shielding her from them, taking her to his secret fort in the woods, where they talked for hours and fell in love.

“Don’t worry, Charlotte,” he had said. “Everything will be fine.”

“Charlotte? Who’s Charlotte?”

“Sorry, Violet, I always think of you as Charlotte.”

And she had liked that, for a time.

“So, Jason, are you, like, an Argonaut or something?”