It is a tradition at my Alma Mater to name the houses or apartment in which students live off-campus. This results an in interesting range of House Names, such as “The Haven”, “The Loft”, “The Porch”, and other ever so descriptive monikers.
This not only gave us the feeling that we were landed gentry who had named estates, but it was a much easier than referring to place’s as “Julianna’s house”. And once name was established, it was much shorter than giving out an entire address.
In addition, the names – in most cases – provide a glimpse at the character of the house. Parties at The Haven were not particularly raucous. The Loft was always classy and elegant and hosted many fancy cocktail parties. The Porch was a constant gathering place and the source of many informal but fun times.
I spent some wonderful times at a little apartment – situated above the health food store! – that was known as “The Wake”. It was so named so that the juxtaposition of life and death would always be in mind, and call forth a wild and beautiful celebration of Living. Later, after some residents graduated – and we had thoroughly cleaned the place – a few friends and I inherited The Wake.
As you can guess, the boys – and later the girls – who lived at The Wake tended to be poetic, whiskey drinking, and idealistic. Parties usually involved much singing and playing and quoting of poetry.
So when I moved on to graduate school, I was slight disconcerted that such a custom is not common to all campuses. My poor little place endured an entire year without being named.
But with the advent of a new school year and new housemates who are from my own school, we decided that we needed to honor our abode with an appellation.
And so we embarked on the hunt for an appropriate name. It had to be simple, descriptive, clever, and preferably hold an allusion not only to our own personalities but to literature.
What could be easier?
One of our most revered professors had admitted that in his grad school experience he had named his apartment “The Nutshell”. This was in reference to both its size, and to the quote from Hamlet, “I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space . . . .”
And we had to think up a name as clever as did our professor. Of course.
I believe that we rejected such late-night suggestions as “The Shoe”, “The Tower”, “Byzantium”, etc., et al.
And then, inspiration struck.
What is the one poem that every humanities student everywhere most certain has memorized? What piece of literature hold the most delightful syllables of nonsense? What famed and most cannon work of art fills the soul with warm amusement and appellative delight?
Yes, that one.
Our home is certainly a place where gyring and gimbling go on. Thusly, we have named our apartment,
Now all that we need is a sundial.
In honor of this auspicious occasion, (and in lieu of being able to share the naming champagne with you over the internet,)I give you that masterpiece of Joy:
By Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy tove
Did gye and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.