author of Feeding Eden

What’s in a Name?

Many readers have asked me how Eden feels about having, not just a book written about his food allergies, but also a book title with his name. I can sum my answer up into a single sentence but I prefer this story:

Years ago, there was a fruit vendor on the corner of Lexington Avenue who used to write my kid's names. He had a routine - As I peered at his grapes he would beckon to the children. He kept a plastic water jug that held two inches of flotsam filled liquid by the side of this stand. He would pour some out of the jaggedly neck, reach into his bulging black fanny pack and thrust a handful of napkins at them with orders, "Dry now! Then you have...fruit!"

But his routine didn't stop at the hygienic maneuvers. After the initial baptism, he would hand them cherries and build his monologue around names:

"What's your name?" He would ask each and every time.

My daughter would whisper, "Dayna" into her collar while her younger brother would assert, "Eden!"

Then he would respond, "Very good! A very, very good name!" as they beamed in agreement.

"Do you want to know my name?" he would invite, ignoring the onlookers who were busily snapping off bananas and holding out their wallets.

"I'll tell you!" he would offer, arms out and palms skyward. The crowd would build and my children would stand mute while he peeled open his fingers one by one.

"Bill Gates!" The first finger points up.

“Bill Clinton!” Finger number two.

“These are easy names to remember yes? Great names. Easy names. My name is great and easy too! My name is Bill! Is not my Turkish name, but is my American name you see? Bill The American!”

Grinning near maniacally now, Bill would glance at his backlog of customers, most wearing the half smile reserved for jumpy chihuahuas. Yet they all waited. Finally, the Name Appreciation routine culminates when he takes his ballpoint pen and scrawls “Dayna and Eden” on the Styrofoam padding of his stand – a memorial of children names and a testimony to his values.

Patriotism aside for a moment, names are important. Bill made me think that when you are proud of yourself then you are proud of your name.

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