My husband’s name is Howard.
No, I did not marry an older man. In fact, I’m slightly older than him. You just don’t see many Howards under 60 these days, let alone in their 20s. it’s an endangered species. And I am lucky enough to be part of the efforts to preserve them.
Howie is technically Howard the Third in his family, named for his father and grandfather. It became evident fairly quickly in our relationship that the name was a matter of pride for him and he dreamed about being the proud father of Howard the Fourth someday. I tried to address this almost as early as the issue came up;
Roughly four years ago:
Me: Babe, you don’t REALLY care about having a son named Howard, do you?
Howie: Are you serious? Of course I do. It’s tradition. My grandfather and dad would be crushed if we didn’t.
Me: I don’t think your grandfather knows who I am.
Howie: Ok but I know my dad would be crushed. You don’t like my name?
Me: I like YOU…. just not…
Howie: That’s so insulting. Howard is a nice, old-fashioned, strong name.
Me: It reminds me of Howard the Duck.
Howie: You know how I feel about people saying that.
Me: Ok but we could just have Howard as a middle name right?
Howie: Heck no. No one cares about middle names.
Me: Ok but we could maybe just technically name him Howard but call him by his middle name?
Howie: What is the point in naming a kid something and then not calling him by his real name?
Me: (To avoid being called Howard) To honour the tradition you have but still appease the woman who has to push the large human baby out of her body?
Howie: Oh it can’t be THAT hard, women do it everyday
From here the conversation digressed rapidly, I went off on some tangent that involved his nether-regions and golf balls. For the sake of maintaining my writer’s integrity, I won’t repeat it. The issue came up here and there for the next few years, mostly in teasing contexts, but after we became engaged I started to grow more fearsome. Was I really expected to someday name a son Howard IV? I decided to go to the source.
Roughly 8 months ago:
Me: Mr. Martin, you don’t REALLY care about having a grandson named Howard do you? Howie seems to think you would actually be upset if we had a son and didn’t name him Howard and I told him you aren’t that kind of guy.
Howard II: Cheryl… you’ve got to be kidding. Of COURSE I’m that type of guy. It’s tradition.
Me: Right, silly of me to ask.
Roughly 4 months ago:
Me: Mr. Martin, about that grandson-Howard thing again…
Howard II: Cheryl….
At this point I should clarify that Howie and I are in no way ready or trying to have kids, but still, Howard IV looms over me like an unpleasant little cavity that you know you have to seriously confront someday. I guess I should be lucky the tradition isn’t Eugene or Sherman or something, but why couldn’t it have been something like John? I think Howie might lose a little of his will to live if I put my foot down on the issue. For now, I’ll just put out a little prayer that we have all girls.