Sploochie and The Big Ragoo

At some point, little kids begin to recognize that Mommy and Daddy have more than one name. That point for C actually came several months ago — if you asked her what Daddy’s name was, she would readily reply “Brian” — but sometime about a couple of weeks ago it got stuck in her head, and ever since then it has been stuck in ours. Every utterance the child has made for the past week has been prefixed with “Brian” (or, more phonetically, “Bwiiiiann”) at varying levels of volume. Sometimes it’s just like a mantra for her: bwianbwianbwianbwianbwianbwian, over and over again until she gets tired of saying it (which so far is apparently never).

She gets it from her mother. Bridget has a habit that I find especially annoying of saying my name over and over, especially if she is trying to gain the upper hand in an argument. It, too, has that same mantra-like quality — brianbrianbrianbrianbrian. She also has a tendency to shout out my name in public places like the mall if I am not within immediate eyesight. Between the two of them, you can rest assured that I never have to tell my name to any salesperson, waitress, or cashier in the shopping mall.

Now I am not guilty of this, but I am guilty of making up silly names for people, places and things, and have quite a repertoire of pet names on hand for C. So one night early last week, just before “Bwian” hit the Top Ten With A Bullet on the C Hit Parade, we were getting her ready for bed and noticed a small, partially-faded stain on her pajama top. “Just a little sploochie,” I said, and C repeated the word “sploochie” and laughed. (Oh, yes, we’re also at the “repeat what Mommy and Bwian say” stage, too, which, given my wife’s propensity to swear at other drivers, has already yielded several hilarious moments in the car).

C thought “sploochie” was especially funny, and before you could say “Bob’s your uncle”, I was calling her “Sploochie”.

Well, the more she kept calling me “Bwian” as we settled into our house for the long holiday weekend, the more I kept calling her “Sploochie” to try to deflect it, but there was no stopping this train. Finally, out of desperation, I told C to call me “The Big Ragoo” instead. You remember “The Big Ragoo”, don’t you? He was Shirley’s perennial boyfriend on Laverne and Shirley. Don’t ask me how or why he popped into my mind as I was looking for an alternative to “Bwian”, it just did.

Every time she called me “Bwian” while we were out shopping on Boxing Day, I reminded her that I was “The Big Ragoo” (which comes out sounding a bit more like “Bit Watoo” when Sploochie says it). As long as I kept calling her Sploochie, though, she would laugh and go along with her obviously demented old man.

It came to a tearful moment, though, as we sat down to eat at one of the restaurants in the mall. I’d about had it with the bwianbwianbwian mantra, so I looked her in the eye quite crossly and told her to stop it, that I was tired of hearing my own name (hard to believe from me, isn’t it?). She put on the biggest, saddest pout I have ever seen on her little face in the entire two years, seven months, and five days of her little life. Some “Sploochie” action brought her back from the brink, though.

At this point, Bridget decided that she wanted in on the nickname action and asked “What’s Mommy’s silly name?” Now talk about leaving yourself wide open. The wiser mommy would have suggested her own silly name, especially with a smartass like me sitting across the table. But the die was cast, and so I dubbed her “Fanny Bananny”. (Well, she asked for it!)

So far my silly name gambit has only been partially successful. It has mostly succeeded in that now everyone we know must be given a silly name, even those whose names are already somewhat silly to begin with. I hear “Bwian” about 35% less than I did three days ago, and “Da-da” has returned to the charts, but we’re not there yet. Meanwhile, yesterday, as I was in the supermarket, Bridget and C joined me from their own expedition to the pet store, and when C saw me coming down the frozen foods aisle she shouted out “Hey Big Ragoo!” as loud as her little voice could carry and ran to me, squealing with delight.

Whenever the Big Ragoo would make his entrance on Laverne and Shirley, he would belt out a line from an old Tony Bennett song: “You make me go from rags to riches!” And that’s just how I felt at that moment.