By Leon Kortenkamp
“In two weeks, it will all seem normal.” For a man of few words, Dad has a way of rising to the moment.
“Maybe,” I answer, staring through the hospital nursery window at my newborn son’s little chest reassuringly rising and falling with each breath. He is asleep in a plastic crib with our last name on a strip of tape above his head.
A nurse enters the room, smiles at us, and points at each of the three babies in the nursery; when she comes to my son, I nod, and she holds him up closer to the window. It is a thoughtful touch, which we acknowledge, but still, it feels a little like special visiting time at the zoo.
“What are you going to call him?” Dad asks.
“Well, that’s a bit of an issue.”
“You haven’t picked a name yet?”
“Oh, I have, but it’s not that simple.”
“What’s the problem?”
“I want Thor, and Ginger wants Malcolm.”
“What ever happened to Mike, or Joe, or Tony?”
“We want something more special than the same old same old. You know, unique.”
“Unique? You mean weird.”
“Never mind, Dad. We will sort it out. The doctor says that we have until tomorrow. Then he will fill out the birth certificate. I can’t argue with Ginger while she is here in the hospital…so he will probably end up Malcolm. She probably planned it this way. Hold out until he’s born and then hope I will give in. She really hates the name Thor.”
“Thor? After that movie?”
“No. Not the movie. After the Nordic god of thunder…and fertility.” I roll out my well-worn argument, “It’s a strong, masculine name.”
“Thundering fertility. That’s not weird,” Dad says, rolling his eyes. “The boy will get killed on the playground. Did you think about that?”
“I don’t think that would be a problem,” I reply. “Maybe with Malcolm, it would be a problem. I could see that.”
“Where does Malcolm come from?’
“Oh, Ginger had this favorite professor named Malcolm.”
Dad purses his lips and blows out a long breath, as he always does to signal he is through talking. Then, “I need a drink. How about you?”
“You need to say goodnight to Ginger?” Dad asks.
“Already did. She’s asleep. Where we going?”
“I thought Roco’s.”
“Roco! Now there’s a name,” I say, as Dad turns to get his jacket from a chair across the hall.
“Good night, Thor,” I add, pressing the flat of my hand against the nursery window.