Cousin Henry

Around the time we settled on Henry’s name, I Googled it just to make sure there weren’t any notorious connotations he’d be saddled with for his entire life.

The only significant association that came up is Cousin Henry, a Victorian novel by Anthony Trollope first published in 1879. I’d never read it or even heard of it before, but I thought a literary precedent would be fine, sophisticated even.

I briefly considered buying a first-edition as a sort of heirloom gift for Henry. But beforehand I read a few short summaries of the plot which centers on the moral dilemma of the title character, a potential heir to an inheritance.

It’s not really specified why, but Cousin Henry (the character) is described as pathetic and contemptible. He never actually rises (or sinks) to the level of a proper villain — just a pitiful, conflicted character placed in a no-win situation. Not exactly an inspirational role model for my son to admire, so I decided to pass on buying him a copy.

I may one day read it and since its copyright has expired, it can be read for free here. What interests me about this Oxford World’s Classics paperback edition is the portrait chosen for the cover. Just like the designer’s attempt to put a face to the character of Cousin Henry, I spend a lot of time trying to picture the adult face of Henry Cousin.

Citizen & Sous-Chef

Yesterday Henry met a man who is indirectly responsible for his existence. We got a visit from our friend John, who first introduced Jacqui and I years ago. Another friend named Jon who had previously met Henry also stopped by. Both were put to work assembling furniture for Henry’s room, which I’m sure he appreciated though he never did get their names straight.

Today I came home from work to find my wife and son preparing dinner together. Very domestic scene:

Also, Henry received his first mail today– his birth certificate and Social Security card. He’s now officially credentialed by the state and national governments and can expect to receive a jury duty summons shortly. Welcome to the system, kid.

Happy Birthday to Granddad

My grandpa would be 80 year’s old tomorrow, September 22nd. Unfortunately, he passed away on September 22nd, 2008. He would be Henry’s Great Grandpa and it would have been a joy for Granddad to meet Henry. I can hear his voice asking how Henry is doing and coming up with a nickname for him. Oftentimes when I called Gram, Granddad would pick up the phone in another room and say, “Is this Jacqui Marie (not my middle name, but his name for me)? Love you” and then stressing it with “very, very, very, much.” As long as he told all of us how much he loved us, he didn’t really need to say more. He was a great man and we miss him not only on his birthday, but every day.

My Grandma's favorite photo of Granddad (Larry Bourret).

My Grandma’s favorite photo of Granddad (Larry Bourret).

Henry’s Travels

Yesterday was the last night of Gram’s visit to NYC. She made us dinner each night and helped watch Henry. It was nice to have this time with Gram even though we were only able to take the occasional walk and have afternoon coffee. It was nice for her to be here and meet Henry. We will miss her and wish her safe travels.

We took Gram to Blue Smoke for some ribs. Henry tagged along. So far (knock on wood) we’re amazed at how he’s able to be out in the city and not even flinch with all the loud noises and constant stimulation. He sleeps through anything. That might be a newborn thing or a Henry thing, it’s too early to tell.

Great Gram

My Gram arrived in NYC today. This is her third visit in the almost 13 years since I have lived here. Gram is very special to all of her family and is basically the matriarch that has held everyone together. I am very happy that she can meet Henry, her 15th great-grandchild. It will be nice to have the company this next week as we adjust to Mark’s return to work. Mark looks forward to some eclairs too.

What’s in a (middle) name?

Jacqui and I questioned whether a middle name was even necessary and considered not giving Henry one. But we still tossed a few suggestions back and forth anyway, not really liking anything, until one night I suggested Clyde.

We think it sounds good as a whole: Henry Clyde Cousin. And looks good written, Clyde sharing letters with the first and last names.

Neither of us personally knows anyone with the name and it’s not after any particular Clyde. I think it may have been in my head because of a song in heavy rotation on my iPod during the pregnancy.

“Bonnie and Clyde” is a duet by noted French perv, Serge Gainsbourg and French bombshell, Brigitte Bardot.

The video clearly drew inspiration from the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway movie released the year before and both are, of course, about the outlaws, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. But Henry Clyde isn’t named after Clyde Barrow, who by all accounts, ruined his own life and Bonnie’s (among others).

It’s more like how flamboyant, former NY Knicks point guard, Walt “Clyde” Frazier adopted the nickname because he liked Beatty’s fashion sense in the film. To me it’s a name that suggests style, creativity and freedom.