I’m cautious and patient about the names I give to the computers and storage volumes that are part of my daily workflow. They’re inanimate objects and they don’t come when called. I know it’s silly. Does this level of self-awareness make the process seem somehow less undignified?
And yet…? Our pets don’t care what they’re named, do they? All they care about is that a certain consistent short sequence of sounds is associated with cookies and/or belly scratchies. Naming a new puppy “Begtap” will serve just as well as calling her “Della.” But she somehow seems like a Della, doesn’t she? And once that name pops into your head, it’s hard to think of her as anything but. Names have a certain magic that binds a soul to our reality.
This is why the MacBook I’m using to write this is called “Lilith Eleven.” I didn’t choose to name my first portable Mac (a PowerBook 100, which I could only afford because Apple had sold a truckful of them to Costco at clearance prices). One day it occurred to me that the name of this object was “Lilith.” It was an act of discovery, not creativity. I shrugged, and ever since, the primary machine I write with has always been a portable Mac named “Lilith.”
It’s not as though picking a name for my iPad Pro was a project or anything. I knew I wanted something that connoted its size without being negative. “Mr. Creosote,” for example, wouldn’t do.
Movie spaceships? Nothing reminded me of an iPad Pro. I took a quick tour through Wikipedia’s list of minor Hitchhiker’s Guide characters, but nothing leaped out at me and the whole thing seemed forced, anyway.
I was okay with keeping iOS’ default name in place until something good hit me.
Then tonight, I was moving some files (okay, my digital comics) from my iPad Mini to a hard drive so I could move them to the Pro. It was the first time in ages that I had a device docked to iTunes and the name of the Mini in the upper corner caught my eye: “Cyd.” I’d named it after the glorious Cyd Charisse, of course.
I’d chosen that name because it was short — small, like the iPad Mini. Also, Cyd Charisse’s character in “The Band Wagon” is described as having a “gamine” quality. Compared to my previous 9.7” iPads, this one certainly seemed to have “a mischievous charm,” so all in all, I knew I had a winner.
And so, I discovered the name of this iPad Pro. “Charisse.” If “Cyd” is small, “Charisse” is almost three times bigger.
As with any good name, it’s not the logic that sells it. It’s the realization that yes, that’s definitely the name of this thing.