I have a dark secret that I need to finally share with the world.
When people ask us if we named Son #3 after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird, I immediately smile and say yes. People will often comment on how they love that novel or they know someone with another TKAMB name or how that novel is so meaningful.
But only part of that is true.
Name a more beloved, strong, intelligent and moral character in literature other than Atticus Finch? Of course, I’m going to say we named our son after the fabled lawyer of literature. And while the most well known Atticus in modern culture is Atticus Finch, TKAMB was not the source of inspiration for our son’s name.
In many ways, the whole naming story is rather embarrassing. My very pregnant wife and I were having breakfast on a Sunday morning at Denny’s. A youngish person walked into the restaurant wearing this T-shirt:
We took one glance at this shirt and that was it. Our child #3, if it was a boy was going to be named Atticus (If he was a girl, he was going to be named Valentine — from Ender’s Game, but that is another story). While this is definitely an homage to TKAMB, it isn’t the direct reference that I let people assume.
Atticus most definitely lives up to his name. Personally, I think he exceeds the name. As a baby he could be the sweetest thing then immediately Jekyll and Hyde into an intense hellion demanding “more” of whatever he wanted — in sign language, nonetheless (followed by an exasperated please, in sign language, when we didn’t move fast enough). He excelled in school because due to the nature of his school, he could read all day if he wanted — he would often curl up in the peace corner of his classroom with a book and read all day only to be gently reminded by other students they needed the peace corner.
His mind is always working in the most devious and ingenious of ways. One of the works at his school was a farm set with animals. The goal was to use cards to spell out the animals in the barn. However, he loved to play with the animals and play our farm scenarios. In his most logical way, he would take the smallest baby pig in his pocket when he would have to go to the bathroom. Technically, because he left the work, it was open to other students, but by taking the piggy with him, he was still working on the Farm work, even from the bathroom. Even in his absence, he was in control.
About 10 years ago, there was an ad campaign that surpassed the actual campaign and now lives in the annals of meme-dom: The Most Interesting Man in the World.
I would like to make the proposition that while this man may have been the most interesting, I have the kid that is most interesting.
To make my point, allow me to bullet point the topics of conversation Atticus brings up in a half hour of just sitting down with Amanda and myself.
- He randomly remembers and quotes arcane lines from The Princess Bride.
- He recounts the latest exploits of the Dungeon and Dragon campaign he is writing.
- He asks us what our favorite Norse gods are to inspire villains in said campaign
- He comments on how there is nothing he desires (in response to a side conversation on commercialism with S#2).
- He recounts the events of a trip that he just returned from
- He excitedly and vividly recounts seeing a farm dog just watching the crops grow on said trip
He then gets up, announces he is going to bed and proceeds to his room. Mind you, this is a normal Tuesday night ½ hour of conversation with Atticus.
Atticus is beyond unique. He is full of random, but meaningful information, his knowledge of things goes well above his age. He is well read and very astute. His take on life situations is well beyond the norm as compared to other 17 year olds. He is logical and straightforward and one of the most pleasant kids — 98.5% of the time. The other 1.5% of the time he lives up to his fiery redhead stereotype.
He is a 17 year old with the soul of an old bohemian who has subsided on life, cussing, black coffee* and liquor. When he “grows up” he wants to open a dive bar and be the type of bartender that will listen to your problems and offer advice to make your life better. He even considered studying psychology just to be a better barroom therapist.
In retrospect, Atticus does personify the character of Atticus Finch — he is the embodiment of a young, helpful, thoughtful, take-no-shit young man But the infamous shirt that inspired his name is a way more accurate description of our Atticus that the Atticus of TKAMB. I mean, how punk would it be to wear a dead finch emblazoned on a shirt, pass you a beer, and say “so, how you been?”
Daily, I will make a pot of coffee and drink one, maybe two cups. Atticus will slam the rest throughout the day and sometimes make a second pot.