I’ll be the first one to say it, parents don’t need my guide to name their baby. It’s not like there is a nameless baby problem. But, what my guide does is expose the process. Once parents are aware of that process, the discussions around names and the final decision can be made with a bit more ease and confidence.
The guide is not a huge list of names. It does 3 things: It lays out the groundwork you need to do in order to figure out what kind of name you want. Then, it goes on to describe those different types of names. Finally, there is a list of different evaluations you can do as you sift through your list of name ideas.
Did you know that The J. Peterman Company catalog still exists? Yes, it does! I signed up for the catalog not too long ago, because I am a copywriter, who loves catalogs, and The J. Peterman Company Owner’s Manual has long been held as an astonishing example of catalog copy, mostly because they spend an extravagant number of words on each product description. Extravagant for a medium and retail arena that focuses on shoving in as much information as possible.
When I received Owner’s Manual No. 146, Early Spring 2017, I had time to sit down and read a few of the product descriptions.
My jaw dropped.
Honestly, what the hell is this? This: “If you are thin, this dress will positively make you look more thin, chic, feminine. …If you are not thin but more of the voluptuous persuasion… Decadent gifts of choux à la crème from the finest Parisian Patisseries….An over-abundance of social engagements.”
Let me translate that for you. If you’re thin, you’ll be even prettier. And, hey, even thinner, which is chic and feminine. If you’re fat (sorry, J., even your fancy wordsmithing isn’t clever enough here), people will shove Twinkies and Hohos in your direction, because they’ll think you’re too thin. Oh, and you’ll finally get asked out.
Surely this is just a fluke, right? I took a look at some of the other descriptions for the women’s clothing.
Nope. Not a fluke. Just across the spread a pleated collar blouse promises to have people ask, “Dear God, who is that charming little darling…?” Because, “little” is what any woman should be and strive to be, right?
No, no, no, say it isn’t so! The J. Peterman Company surely is doing better, right?
Then, there’s this dress that “hide[s] what you want to hide and accentuate[s] what you want to accentuate.”
“And of course there are the colors—slimming and eye-popping.”
Really, they should have started and ended the copy here: “The thing is, a simple yet alluring dress like this makes people feel good when they see it.”
Take that in.
Let’s just sit with that a moment.
Because, it’s all about WHO is looking at a woman, right, J.? Never about the actual woman. Never. Go figure.
But, across the spread, I found one amazing, inspiring description. I’m not being sarcastic either.
In its entirety:
The merger hasn’t been announced but everyone’s in panic mode.
Brantley said you’d be okay but nothing’s concrete. The good thing is you’ve got a niche. They need you. Don’t they? Wait, do they expect you to move to Berlin? You’re asking the wrong questions.
How about, do you need this headache?
Do you even like Berlin?
What’s the weather like on the Spanish waters this time of year?
These questions are more befitting of someone ready to turn the page.
Tomorrow you’ll tell them how it’s going to be.
Hell yes! This is the woman I imagine wearing J. Peterman clothes and, really, any brand. The woman who doesn’t depend on anyone. Who isn’t told what to do. The woman who forges her own path. The woman who’s ready to turn the page.
C’mon, J. Peterman! How about some more copy like that last one? A little less focus on women’s bodies. No more feeding into the vicious cycle of body image. You’re better than that. Or, maybe you’re not. Doing a quick Internet search, I found that you’ve written eyebrow-raising copy before. Check out this piece on Jezebel about a “rapey” description. Good thing I’m ready to turn the page.
I read this article from NPR yesterday and was excited. Not because of the content. I think the article makes a serious point, but the fact that the reporter pulled out the dictionary makes me giddy. That’s what us word nerds do!
Now many listeners want to know why Kelly didn’t just call the president a liar.
On Morning Edition, Kelly explains why. She says she went to the Oxford English Dictionary seeking the definition of “lie.”
“A false statement made with intent to deceive,” Kelly says. “Intent being the key word there. Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head, I can’t tell you what his intent was. I can tell you what he said and how that squares, or doesn’t, with facts.”
This article highlights the importance of using just the right word–using the correct word to not only express exactly what you need to, but to maintain integrity.
It also highlights the need for everyone to read carefully. Very, very carefully. And, perhaps, pull out the dictionary every now and then. I recommend bookmarking Merriam-Webster. It’s an easy-to-use online dictionary, but also provides a lot of smart insights on word trends.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m chugging along with my daily writing. Again, I’ve missed a couple of days, but I’ve made up the word count on the days I have been writing. Some days I write new stuff. Other days, crappy stuff. Sometimes, I work on existing projects: my newsletter for my freelance writing services, my memoir. (Have I told you I’m working on this?)
Here’s an excerpt from this week:
One of my favorite games to play when I’m out and about running errands is “Make a Character.” It’s a game of solitaire and one that resides only in my imagination. It works like this: you notice a person. Perhaps it’s a store clerk. A customer counting pennies out of their wallet to pay. Or maybe a man in head-to-toe spandex riding his bicycle down a busy suburban street.
Pick your person. Now, create their character. This isn’t mean. You’re not doing this to make fun of them. Look for clues. Rings. How their shirt is tucked in, if it is at all. Their shoes. The way they pronounce their words. How they use their hands to talk.
Here’s an example. Yesterday, I went to the post office to mail an oversize envelope. I stood in line because I didn’t want the envelope to be bent and using the self-serve postage machine would have required me to dump it into a bin and who knows what would be dumped in after mine?
Ahead of me was an older woman. Despite only seeing her back, I could tell by her posture and voice. She waved around a $100 bill asking for as many stamps as it would buy. The clerk asked her what design she wanted. She didn’t know, even after he pointed to a bulletin board where the different designs were displayed. Finally, she asked for “just the regular stamps.” Flags. She asked how many 3 sheets would be. He tilted his head, calculating, and came up with “28 dollars and some change.” She said okay, but then asked the price again. He clarified his answer, seemingly now that he had time to complete the calculation, “28 dollars and 20 cents.” The woman told him to give her 3 more sheets and then paid.
My character wasn’t the woman, but the clerk, Dave. His patience. Although, I’ve noticed that postal employees behind the counter at the post office tend to be the most patient people I’ve ever met. His patience paired with his mental calculations. There was a glimmer of joy and pleasure in being given an opportunity to show off his math skills.
He had blond hair, natural. Which is unusual for a man because as women have learned a long time ago, natural blond hair is quite rare. It’s even more rare for men because they tend to not dye their hair.