“So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals”

(Gen. 2:20)

Nomina Tantum

Nomina tantum

Adam: “You there, the beast on the left, you’re Quentin, that crawly thing next to you is Calvin…”

Voice: “Is that with a C or a K?“

Adam: “With a C. Wait a minute. Who are you? Where did you come from? And what’s that stuff on your back?

Voice: “Those are wings. Purely decorative. I don’t fly. The Almighty sent me to note down for the archives the names that you give to the animals.“

Adam: “OK then, my decoratively feathered friend, why don’t we call you Max.“

Voice: “Sorry, I’ve already been assigned a name. I’m The Recording Angel, all caps and always with the article. TRA for short.”

Adam: “Whatever.”(continuing): “You, there in the water, you’re Cliff.”

In the water: “I’m a girl.”

Adam: “ I don’t know what that means, but whatever it is, you are still Cliff.”

TRA: “The Almighty wants to speak with you.”

Adam: “ How do I do that?“

TRA: “Over there. In the burning bush.“

Adam (tentatively, to the bush): “Hello?”

The Almighty (booming from the bush):“I think there may be a misunderstanding. You’re not to name the animals individually – that would take an eternity- just the types, the groups of animals that look like each other.”

Adam: “I wish you had explained that to me before.”

TRA: “Easy, naked guy.”

The Almighty: “That’s alright, TRA; he’s new here. Listen, my man, you claimed you were bored in Paradise, that you needed something to occupy you, so I gave you the name game.”

Adam (sarcastically): “And that, I suppose, is the name of the game. And by the way, why don’t I have a name?”

The Almighty (resignedly): “OK, you’re Clive.”

Adam: “No. You said we’ll probably all end up Jewish. I want a Jewish name.”

The Almighty looks at TRA: “What do we have in the Hebrew file?”

Adam: “How about Shlomo?“

The Almighty: “ Shlomo? Where did you hear Shlohmo?“

Adam: “I peeked in your shooting script which was open to the nineteenth century. Holy Cow! –I named them yesterday afternoon— that’s pretty grim stuff you’ve got planned. And where’s Lvov? Somewhere east of Eden?”

TRA: “Nobody wants the name Adam, Almighty, so that’s available.”

Adam: “It doesn’t sound Jewish. What’s It mean?”

TRA: “Somebody, a guy.”

The Almighty: “OK, enough of that. You’re Adam. Those scaly things swimming around in the water, one of which you attempted to name Cliff, are obviously a set. What would you like to name the set of such animals?”

Adam: “Cliff.”

The Almighty: “OK, you’re not getting it. Maybe it’s the smoke. TRA, put out this bush fire. I’m going to speak from on high. Adam, look at me. I’m talking to you.”

Adam: “Where are you?”

The Almighty: “ Up here. Over your head. Now listen. There are individual names like Cliff and like Adam. And there are generic names, like earth, air and fire. You’re naming families of animals, so stick to the generic names. You might call our scaly friends fish, for example.”

Adam: “That’s an ugly sound. I’m calling them lobsters.”

TRA (whispering): “Bad idea. Very bad idea.”

Adam: “This is no fun. How about calling them rocks?”

TRA: “Can’t. That’s taken.“

Adam: “What! Who used that?”

The Almighty: “I did. You see, before you were, I am, and during the I am era I created everything you see around you and under you and over you, and I named it. But not the animals. I’ve been told I have a tendency to micromanage so I left aside the beasts of the earth and the fish of the sea – yes, I said fish— and took my rest.”

TRA: “The thing about the woman, Sir. You told me to remind you.”

The Almighty: “Ah, yes. Let’s get on with it Adam, it is not good for you to be alone with all these animals. So I have prepared a companion for you. TRA?”

TRA: “Cue the woman.”

A Voice: “Cue the woman!”

A naked woman comes walking down the garden path.

Adam (aghast): “Whoah! What is that supposed to be? Did you make it out of spare parts? And where’s the fur?”

The Almighty: “Please! She’s handmade, all natural and made from scratch.”

Adam: “Her breasts are a little small, don’t you think?…”

TRA sniggers.

Adam: “…and myself, I’d have made the legs a little longer and her butt, I don’t know, somehow rounder, juicier. Are you seeing this with me?”

The Almighty: “All I’m seeing is an ingrate…”

At that moment Adam shrunk two inches. He was now 5’6”.

TRA (murmuring): “God is Great.”

The Almighty (continuing): “…and since you’re so interested in design, I’m going to let you make the next one.”

Adam: “I have some ideas.”

The Almighty: “I’m sure you do.” A thoughtful pause. “TRA, you know, maybe the time has come to introduce Adam to the birds and the bees…”

Adam (reproachfully): “You named the bees too?”

TRA: “Can I stay and watch?”

The Almighty: “What’s the point? You have no body. You’re virtual, head to toe, and those wings of yours are made of taffeta and silk organza and wouldn’t lift you high enough off the ground to put a real feather under your foot. But by all means stay, if you wish.” Turning to Adam, “Now pay close attention. You see those rascals with the long tails over there romping in the grass? What are you calling them?”

Adam (tentatively): “Cliff?”

The Almighty: “Adam, you have a real gift. I’m going to call them monkeys.”

TRA: “Excellent call, Almighty. The name has caught the essence of the little beasts.”

The Almighty: “No, sorry, TRA. Nomina tantum. They’re only names. Their essences reside elsewhere. In my mind, I think. But back to the monkeys. Adam what do you think they’re doing, jumping up and down on one another that way.”

Adam (genuinely puzzled): “Jumping up and down on one another?”

The Almighty (impatiently): Yes, but why? They’re making other monkeys!”

Adam: “So who did you jump on to make me?

The Almighty (quietly amused): “I’m the Almighty; I don’t do the jumping thing. I just say “be,” and it is.”

Adam: “And how does it know what to be?”

The Almighty: “It’s a little late in the day to get into the future possibles and besides, you’re only 13 hours old so I’m not sure you’d be able to follow. But I’m sure you’ll be able to understand this. As a special treat, I am going to allow you to name the woman I made for you.“

Adam: “Thanks, Almighty. Can I suggest some design modifications too?”

The Almighty: “No, no modifications. (turning to the woman). “Have a seat. No not on the rock, dearie; on the grass. Adam, she just needs a name. An individual name. Can you do that for me?”

Adam: “Cliff.“

The Almighty (looking at TRA who merely shrugs his wings): “Did I forget to install a brain in this one?”

TRA: “You’re overworked. Maybe you need to rest more. Maybe one day doesn’t do it for you.”

The Almighty: “Alright TRA, that’s enough. You can tell the rest of the angels that my decision is final, that we’re not going to the Weekend Rest until late in the Sixth Millennium. Adam, let’s save some time here. We’ll call the woman…”

Adam: “Kay Francis!”

The Almighty: “Closer, but no apple.”

TRA (whispering to Adam): “Eve.”

Adam: “Eve!”

The Almighty: “Excellent! I think my work here is done. TRA, reset the bush. And you, Adam, why don’t you and Eve take a stroll in the Garden, get to know each other. There are some excellent fruit trees there, though there’s one that I’d rather you didn’t…”

Adam (helping Eve up from the grass): “C’mon, Cliff, let’s get a bite to eat. And you know, I think I actually prefer you without fur. Kinda cute, the naked look”


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