My daughter’s name is Hillary.
She is Hillary because it’s easy to say and spell, and it’s both common and uncommon. Those were the criteria for labeling our children: easily recognized and understood, and (and maybe most importantly), it’s not a top 500 name.
Not that it should be anyone’s business, but she was not named after Hillary Clinton. One thing my wife and I didn’t want to do was burden our daughter with a legacy. Famed quarterback Peyton Manning has untold hundreds (if not thousands) of children honoring him, which I’ve always thought was unfair to them.
(“Your namesake won a Super Bowl, and you can’t even clean up your room!”)
Plus, I would never want to slap anything on a child while the person is alive. Imagine any proud African-American families who named their son after Bill Cosby in the 1980s. Whoops on you; your kid was modeled after a rapist.
Every so often someone will ask if my daughter was named after the former First Lady, and I will laugh and intone, “I say thee, nay.” 99% of the time people accept that at face value. But every so often someone comes along with too loose a screw in their head, and they are not fun to deal with. The worst case happened while I was performing in a teeny-tiny town in Iowa.
It was a one-off bar gig, and while the venue owner was an exceedingly nice man, he wasn’t too in tune with what was needed for a successful comedy show.
“I’m going to leave the TVs on, in case people want to watch basketball,” he explained. “Oh, and not everyone knows there’s a show tonight, so some people will just be eating dinner, and there will be kids here…”
These are the gigs you get when you’re not Daniel Tosh.
C’est la vie.
When the opening comic went up, a quartet of middle-aged white-folk was especially belligerent. They didn’t get to finish their game of darts, which I believe only happened because the dartboard was right next to the microphone into which the comedians would be speaking. If that hadn’t been the case, I can only imagine the owner would have said—in his kind voice—“Anyone who wants to play darts during the comedy show, can…”
I understood the customer’s anger. After all, the bar had comedy every single night of the year, and that dartboard was only there for that one hour… Oh, wait.
The gang-of-four spent the show alternately texting and talking, but apparently were focused enough during one moment at the end of my set. A twin pair of female ears perked when I mentioned the book I wrote to my daughter. After all was said and done and I was selling my wares to those interested, the first woman approached me.
“Your daughter’s name isn’t really Hillary, is it?” she asked snottily.
I responded in the affirmative.
“Is she named after anyone?”
The woman huffed and stormed off to her friend for a powwow. Upon its conclusion, the friend marched over to me, agitation worn on her weathered face.
“So your daughter is named Hillary?” she barked.
“Just like she was thirty seconds ago, yes.” I responded.
“And you’re sure she’s not named after anyone?”
Given her tone (as well as her actions during the show), I was feeling frisky.
“Nope. But would it be so bad if she was?” I volleyed, basically stoking the flames.
“Ugh! Why would you want that association?” the woman grumbled.
I played confused and clueless: “Would it be so awful if she were named after Hillary Clinton?”
As a rule, I try not to talk politics with customers. In fact, the only time I generally get involved with political discussions is when someone is being beyond stupid.
(“I Stand With Walker!”)
I felt this woman fit nicely into this demographic, and I was right.
“Ugh!” the woman responded. “That would be horrible!”
“Why?” I asked.
I’ve found that instead of arguing with idiots, it’s best to make them explain their misguided beliefs. More often than not, they can’t. Unfortunately, this only frustrates them, making them dig in their heels even harder. It’s definitely not a way of educating anyone, but it’s easier than explaining reality to them.
“Well imagine if she had been elected!” she demanded.
I stood mute, waiting for her to continue.
It would have been easy to say, “My God, you’re right… tourism wouldn’t be going into the toilet, immigrants wouldn’t live in a state of fear, legislation wouldn’t be being drafted that allows for discrimination of the LGBTQ community, twenty-four million people might not fear losing their healthcare… My God, the horror!”
But, as said, when dealing with anyone as dumb as a brick, no amount of reality matters, so I remained silent.
After a moment of waiting for me to say anything, the woman shouted again. This time her war cry was, “Crooked Hillary!”
I went back to questioning: “Fair enough: what made her crooked?”
“Well, everything! Benghazi!”
I stared at her, this time a little more intently. Instead of playing dumb, I was now letting her know I wasn’t buying into her nonsense.
“OK, so you apparently know something multiple Republican-led investigations don’t. What is it?” I asked pointedly.
The former First Lady is a politician, which means she has lied about something. I know that. Hell, the first thing that popped into my mind was her talking about coming under fire while visiting the Middle East. But I knew she couldn’t come up with even that obvious tidbit. People who parrot Fox News are only watching it to have their ignorance validated, not for information.
“She’s a liar!” the woman grumped before turning her attention to the opening comic and complaining about Hillary Clinton to him.
The problem with ideologues is they are so warped that all they see is their own particular brand of stupidity, and the dumb do not like being challenged.
Not that it should matter, but in the 2014 midterm election I voted for the Republican Governor of Iowa, and the Democratic Senator. In each case, it was because I thought they were the best choice. The Democratic candidate for Governor was a lunatic, and the Republican candidate for Senate was Joni Ernst. If you need me to explain why that’s bad, you should be wearing a helmet for your own protection. I have always voted across many party lines, because it’s easy to do so when you view politicians individually and you do not adhere to any particular party’s platform.
Anyway, this post was an exceedingly long way of saying, “No. No my daughter was not named after Hillary Clinton.”
If that’s where your brain goes when you hear the name “Hillary,” fair enough. If that upsets and or outrages you, however, then you have some issues upstairs you might want to talk to a therapist about.
Photo: Getty Images