The due date was Feb. 7. First child. The expectant couple declined all invitations, exhortations and overt begging from friends and relatives to disclose, or even hint at, the name they planned to give their daughter.
Then there was the Christmas card. This item, mass mailed in mid-December, contained a photo of the couple. Over the tummy of the wife was a tiny Washington Redskins jersey prominently bearing the number 10.
The card was signed, “Love, Liz, Emmett, and Roberta Griffin.*” Yes, an asterisk marked that third name. At the bottom of the card, the footnote read, “Baby’s actual name may vary from name shown above.”
It should be noted at this juncture that the husband’s place of birth and rearing was our nation’s capital city. And that all in his family were, and are, dyed-in-the-wool fans of the hometown football franchise. And that, in 2012, said franchise had its best season in years, largely owing to the success of a rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, familiarly known as “RG3,” who wears jersey number 10.
Get the picture? (Pun intended!)
Now, it might come as a surprise to astute readers of this column to learn that, apparently, some people are possessed of all three of the following attributes:
(1) They are naive enough to believe that a couple would, in a mass-mailed holiday card, reveal a secret that had been assiduously kept for months. (2) They are literal to a fault. (3) They do not read the footnotes on the greeting cards they receive.
Thus, it will no doubt surprise you further to learn that the couple in question received many texts, emails and calls in which their friends professed their love for the name Roberta and allowed as how they simply could not wait to welcome her into the world.
Once you’ve absorbed the foregoing, it will surely not surprise you to learn that many family members – all of whom studiously and carefully study greeting card footnotes (endnotes, too) – began to refer to the unborn child as Roberta. And did so for the remainder of the pregnancy.
A visit to the ObGyn on Feb. 1 revealed statistics consistent with the possibility that labor could commence at any time. Bags were packed and people were ready to go, in Washington, D.C., and Little Rock, Ark. And then Feb. 7 came and went. Ditto Feb. 8.
Schedules were adjusted daily by grandparents-to-be, as developments from afar were communicated. The Arkansas grandparents-to-be were relaxing in front of the TV at 4:15 p.m. on Feb. 9 when the text came, announcing that labor had begun and things were “going faster than expected.” Fifteen minutes later, they were en route to a hospital many miles away.
At around 8 p.m. CST, the first photo of a healthy, hearty, eight-pound one-ounce newborn was electronically distributed to a couple driving east between Memphis and Nashville. Along with a note introducing Anna Clary and stating that her mother was doing great. Thus, the child once known as Roberta had arrived at last. She will be expected to call one of her grandparents Pop Pop.
Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.