20 Baby Names

Georgia Mendel, an art and design school graduate with a specialty in visual media, had hoped for a career in design. But in her first job, taking mundane team photos, she had met and been swept off her feet by Greg Mendel. Long, romantic story short, they were married and too soon the puzzled and exhausted parents of twin daughters. Twins were a characteristic of the Mendel line, his family explained. Totally unprepared for the upheaval, Georgia abandoned hopes of artistry and put her time into caring for a pair of toddlers.

Chapter 20 Baby Names

Then Greg landed a bigger coaching job. She was resentful when away games took Greg’s help along with them. She was enraged when away games became his games away from home. During their long and drawn-out separation and the machinations of divorce, she drew increasingly on the assistance of her older and single sister Gina, who was steady and obliging and eventually just moved in with Georgia.

“Now that it’s decided that the girls are with us on weeknights, I might try to get something full time.” Georgia opened the discussion and a bottle of wine with Gina, one night after the girls had finally stopped talking to each other and settled to sleep. “The placement orders say that he has them on weekends.”

“That’s going to throw off our schedules, too,” Gina grumbled. She had a regular, boring, 8 – 4 job in the city police department. But it did give her daily time with her nieces, which she liked. Now that she wouldn’t be seeing them on weekends, she would be bored then as well. “I’ll ask about changing around some hours, if you like. Maybe I could get some weekday time off instead, depending on what you arrange of course, and spend some more time with them, after school. They offer flex time for some parents, I think. But anyway, I’ll ask.”

Gina called Georgia at lunch next afternoon.

“So I went to personnel, or human resources, or whatever. While I was waiting, I was looking at the job postings. There’s a position for police photographer. Want to angle for this one?”

“What a terrible pun! Anyway, I’m not a cop. Don’t you have to be a cop?”

“Apparently not. They want a college grad, up-to-date on photo equipment, who can ‘talk good’ in court.”

Georgia took the job. Being on call was crazy-making but she liked the money. On Friday afternoons, because Georgia didn’t want to even go near the POPS, Gina drove them to their Dad’s and saw them safely into the lobby with Gervase. Early Monday mornings, she picked them up there. It was all kind of working out in a fractured sort of way.

Georgia Mendel, ex-wife of Greg, mother of Poppy and Pansy, sister of Gina, police photographer

Georgia Mendel, ex-wife of Greg, mother of Poppy and Pansy, sister of Gina, police photographer

*   *   *   *   *

“Will Aunt Gina be picking us up from school?” Pansy asked into the phone. “Okay. ‘Bye Mom. See you tomorrow.”

It was Sunday evening, a school day tomorrow. On nights when Greg was going to be out late, Mrs. James chose not to wait up for him at his place. Poppy and Pansy stayed over, sharing the futon in her den. They were settling into a routine of sorts there, Mrs. James thought; during the week with their mother and aunt, perhaps not so much, was her own first impression.

“Do you even know our real names, Mrs. James?” Pansy asked. Each girl enjoyed having someone other than a sister to talk with at bedtime.

“I guess I don’t, dear. I mean, I thought Poppy and Pansy were your real names. What are they?”

“Don’t you want to guess first?” Poppy posed the question.

“Oh, she”ll never guess. Let’s just say,” insisted Pansy. “You’re the oldest, you go first.”

“Gina Penelope Mendel. Pleased to meet you, Mrs. James. May I introduce my younger sister?  Mrs. James, this is Pamela Zoe Mendel.”

“Ivy Pearl James, and the pleasure is all mine. Your manners are very polished. How did you arrive at these nicknames?”

“Mom says it’s what we called each other when we were learning to talk. What are your twins’ names?”

“Max and Nate. I used to say their names together when I called them at the same time. ‘MaxyNate.’ Now, what would we get if we did that with yours? Oh I’ve got it. ‘PopnPan.'” When the giggles subsided, Poppy wanted to know more.

“Who are you named after, Mrs. James? Such pretty names. Another Ivy or Pearl, like I’m named after my aunt?”

“Yes, my two grandmothers.”

“And your Mr. James?”

“Reginald Thomas. I called him R.T., for short. My eldest son is named after him, and his nickname is Reggie.”

“One time, Daddy made us sit with his girlfriend at a game and you’ll never guess what she did.”

“Well, I might have to know a little about her, to be able to guess that.”

“Kitty Doyle. She lives here too, you know.” Twisting up the corner of her mouth into a guessing expression to hide her disappointment at this revelation, Mrs. James did make a guess.

“She made fun of your names?”

“That was a really good guess! How did you know?” Astonished, Poppy was the first to speak.

“She seemed so pretty we thought that she would be nice to us,” Pansy added.

“Like Glinda,” supplied Mrs. James.

“Who’s Glinda?” They echoed, in twin speak.

“Glinda, the good witch of the south…from the Wizard of Oz….don’t mean to tell me you’ve never heard of the Wizard of Oz?”

“Umm, maybe a kids movie?”

Mrs. James decided then and there to add a library outing to their list of activities. She had plenty of opportunity to read to them at bedtime and it sounded as if they had some catching up to do in the children’s section. There were two downtown branches, Central and East. Central was wonderful for browsing but it was hard to park. The intermittent trips out to plug the meters irked a dedicated browser, like herself. Part of the charm for her was losing track of time. She did miss that about her old home; the convenience of walking, or biking, or driving over to the library with its free parking.

But she couldn’t very well have the girls biking downtown even if they kept bikes at the POPS, and it was too far to walk, especially with a pile of books. She remembered the stacks of picture books her boys used to bring home. No more than they could carry, was her rule. They would need both transport and sturdy book bags. She added a second rule; library materials must stay at the POPS.

A little research told her that the #15 bus would do nicely for getting to East, with just a few steps at either end. There was free parking there but it was only a mile away. R.T. had always cautioned her about starting up a cold car and driving a short distance. His words came back to her, as they often did. “Metal on metal is very bad. Always remember, a car runs on fluids, Ivy. On fluids.”