If you are from Texas, you already know about Governor Hogg and his daughter. Before Hogg, governors had to be brought in from out of state; he was actually born in Texas and served during the 1890s. I heard about him when I was a very young child and immediately loved him because he named his daughter Ima. At the time, I didn’t consider how Ima felt about it; I just liked the sound of it. When I heard he had another daughter named Ura, I wished that my parents had loved me enough to name me Ura Hogg. Later I found out that Ura didn’t exist. I have lived with a broken heart ever since.
I can’t trace my love for wordplay to the story of Governor Hogg, but it definitely taught me that people’s names are fun to play with. (Note to reader: I am doing my best to stay away from pig puns. With a name like Hogg, that’s hard to do. But for your sake, I will gird up my tender loins and get out of this paragraph as fast as I can.)
Here’s what got me to thinking about Hogg. Yesterday, we saw a car with a license plate from Iowa. From deep within my brain, a wish came bubbling up; a wish that my last name was Lott and that I was from Iowa. Then my online name could be Iowa Lott.
In the privacy of my own mind, I do this kind of nameplay all of the time. I once worked with a woman whose last name was Mennen. When she told me she had a grown daughter, I was quite excited. Before I could offer to be a matchmaker, she told me the daughter was already married. I dreamed of fixing her up with a man named Black. She would use a hyphenated last name: her maiden name and her husband’s last name. I imagined her wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and a black suit to work. When people asked her name, she would answer simply, “Mennen-Black.” Had I been more careful about who I married, I could have had a name like that.
There’s more, of course, but today is the first day of classes for this semester and I need to get there early. I always look forward to my classes. The people sitting in those chairs are not just students to me, they’re names.