Column: Thinking more about names and character

Michael Alcorn
Posted 10/11/22

So, if, as I wrote last week, our oldest daughter’s name should have been “Grace,” there is no question that our second child should be named “Crash.” As in, “Crash Test.”

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Column: Thinking more about names and character


So, if, as I wrote last week, our oldest daughter’s name should have been “Grace,” there is no question that our second child should be named “Crash.” As in, “Crash Test.”

It’s hard to tell that now, actually. See, as she grew up, she became much better aware of her surroundings, so crashing into stuff became a much less frequent occurrence.

And, for the record, yes — she totally got that from my side of the family.

Even as she grew older, though, there was a still a wonderful, bold, forward quality to how she approached life. Like, when she made a mistake, there was a Cassie-shaped hole in the wall, not unlike Wile E. Coyote. The beauty part was that she didn’t make many mistakes, and that boldness made her an outstanding student leader, and, I believe, will make her a really good teacher.

Boldness is an increasingly rare quality, I think. Well, except for online. Online everybody has the boldness of two tequilas, because the anonymity of the ether makes it possible to believe you’re safe. That’s not really true, of course, as old posts and picts and twits have started to cost people opportunities in the present. But, still, people say things online that they would never say in person.

Which seems like a real indictment of the cowardice of the age.

We’re so used to the creature comforts of the modern era that we’ve forgotten what it is to act. We think, we plan, we have committee meetings, we fall back on platitudes and, when things don’t go how we hoped, we comfort ourselves with our good intentions and give bonus points for trying. We even actively discourage the sort of activities that breed boldness, dismissing as “dangerous” and “toxic” those —admittedly, sometimes foolish — acts that foster decisiveness and courage under fire. And then we sit on our high horses and condemn (after the fact, of course) those who have the courage to act when they, sometimes, get it wrong.

But any cursory glance at the front page of a newspaper tells you that we’re coming up on a time when boldness will be required, when the mentality to act in the face of the encroaching darkness will be necessary.

That is why I have always taken a sort of perverse pride in my daughter’s mindset. Of course, I pray every day that she will never be required to take action of the sort for which we fete our police, our SEAL Teams, or our Zelensky’s. But, going into education, someday she may be required to stand up and defend what is right and what is proper in the face of loud and sustained efforts to force her silence. At least I know she can take it.

She has the bruises to prove it.

Our third child, 15, is a completely different sort of character. He is quiet, he is reserved, usually shunning the spotlight. But, from a very early age, we could see the wheels spinning on the soccer pitch. His is a strategic mind that thinks in big picture terms and understands how systems work. Which is why, now that he has stopped playing soccer, he has found a new niche in the world of gaming. And, I know — so many dismiss it as a distraction. But, I tried to watch some of his games last year — I couldn’t follow all the activity, all the moving parts, and all the little nuances going on at any given time in an arena with four teammates and five opponents operating in cyberspace. Maybe we should have called him “Spock.”

And then we could spend our lives explaining to him who Spock is.

Thinking of that nature isn’t taught in schools, and there’s not many opportunities for it to flourish in the world of rubrics and test scores. But the real world is run by systemic thinkers, in every arena from cyber-security to drone warfare. He’ll find his place, in time.

And, luckily, he won’t be saddled with the name “Spock” at the top of his resume.

Michael Alcorn is a former teacher and current writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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