Name Your House (No Boat Needed)

Nobody does names like boat people.

They take their name choices seriously even where it seems the opposite is more likely.

What an oddly blended cocktail of tradition, play on words, sense of humor, braggadocio, hope, faith, honesty and deceit. The spirit of individuality is so brash you’d never suspect the boating crowd as being the friendly and helpful clan it truly is.

I’ve seen boat owners name their craft with far more reverence and ritual than children. It happens every weekend somewhere across the planet.

Sure, I’m aware of kids named Moon Unit, Dweezil, River, Tymiracle, TKO, Fifi Trixibell and Sup. But these are too few and far between against the backdrop of boats named Wheredahelarwe, Pier Pressure, Nautibuoy, Ship For Brains, Sails Call, Vitamin Sea, Campbell’s Sloop, Don’t Panic (written upside down), Blew By You, Seas The Day, Without a Clew, Soggy Nightmares and To Sea Oar Knot to Sea.

One of my all time favorites: Ship For Brains.

Imagine calling in an emergency on your VHF radio (trying to hail the Coast Guard or any vessel within hearing and helping range) and having to identify yourself as “Ship For Brains”.

But that’s another story for another time (and, fortunately, not my story).

Today’s early morning first-cup-of-coffee think session is about house names and how much fun it would be if more people participated the way boat people do. Too, from the perspective of buying and selling a home, a house name makes a place stand out.

Sure, we commonly see them named along lakes and near mountain top resorts, but not along the every day streets of every day people in the every day towns of the world. Certainly, where I live now: Jonesville, South Carolina.

Why not? I wonder.

Prior to streets being named and the houses along them being numbered for “identification purposes” (making it easier for visitors and fire trucks to arrive more confidently and quickly), house names were common if not essential. There were grand names like Monticello and Mount Vernon. And common names like The Miller Place.

It’s a shame for the practice to have been lost—blurred and buried beneath an increasingly digitalized world.

You remember that Bob Seger song Feel Like A Number, don’t you? The best part of it goes:

Gonna cruise out of this city
Head down to the sea
Gonna shout out at the ocean
Hey it’s me!

Your house shouldn’t just be a number. It should be an extension of you, your personality, your outlook on life, your dreams and things.

Hunter S. Thompson, the “Father of Gonzo Journalism” had Owl Farm. Hemingway had Finca La Vigia in Cuba. Virginia Wolfe had Monk’s House.

I named our place in the country Pineapple Hill as an acceptable alternative to The Republic of Tim (“an island nation surrounded by cows”).

A house name should be chosen with care. With a sense of it’s location but also, ideally, to endure the ages. Although I’m unaware of superstitions related to renaming a house, you want it to stand through the years as your legacy. (As for boat names, think twice before making changes. There are many superstitions.)

Wouldn’t be great to have a National House Naming Day set aside for everyone to announce their decisions and put up their signs? We could all drive around on a sunny afternoon to take a look…

…and then go down to the ocean and shout out “Hey, it’s me!”.

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—Tim Bryant, Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

* Feel Like a Number
(From Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s 1978 album, “Stranger in Town”)