She was one of those types of people who took an obsession to the extreme, the kind of person who adequately freaks you out when you hear about their weird secret little world. The slightest trickle, would lead to a flowing river of obsessive behaviour.
Her name was Olive.
From the moment she was born, Olive was a special girl. Her parents were both GreenPeace activists, using old family money to travel around the world in the hope of “making a difference”. She got her name while her parents conceived her during an olive-planting operation in war-torn Lebanon. Or at least, that’s what they told her…
As an adult, Olive followed suit with her parents earthy granola lifestyle, eating only organic food, questioning corporations, not subscribing to mainstream media, and avoiding capitalism at all costs.
Around the age of 17 she began to become very obsessed with olives. Whenever she wrote her name, the “O” would be an olive, she wore olive coloured clothing and accessories, and knew everything there was to know about the many varieties of olives and olive products.
When she moved into her first apartment she began traveling to specialty shops around the province in search of the finest imported olives, tapenades, oil, and breads, she always had unique and tasty olive products in her fridge and cupboards. She personified her name in every possible way. Her apartment had olive art, olive walls, décor, eclectic olive oil ads from the early 1920s, and even a Black cat named Ollie.
One Sunday afternoon she had her parents over for tea, but not just any tea… of course it was olive tea, made from Spanish olive leaves. Her parents sat in her kitchen quietly surveying the carnival of olive compulsions around them, wondering if it was their fault.
Her mom took a sip of her tea and smiled warmly, “Honey – don’t you think you’re a little bit obsessed with olives?”
Olive bit into a mammoth stuffed olive and said “No, no I don’t. I just, I dunno, I love olives. What’s wrong with that?”
“Well sweetie, we all love olives, but you don’t have to structure your entire life around them. It’s just a little… uhh weird, that’s all.”
Her dad stared down at the table into his olive swirled ceramic mug, intentionally avoiding eye contact with either of the two women, in the hopes of not being asked for an opinion.
“Well YOU GUYS gave me my name!! Maybe you should have thought of the ramifications before you left the hospital!”
Her mother shot a disheartening glance at her father, who was still soaking his stare into his mug of warm tea. “Oh Christ, I can’t do this anymore… Bill, we are gonna have to tell her.”
“Tell me what….?”
Bill remained silent, his face now looking the colour of the walls around him. Her mother kept staring at him expecting him to start the awkward but necessary conversation, but all he did was stare into his mug blankly.
“Oh fine… I will tell her then. Your name wasn’t really Olive until you were 3 okay. There I said it. I’m sorry. I (we) should have told you, I don’t know why we didn’t, it was wrong of us. It was all just a big mistake.”
Olive’s eyes filled with tears as she stared at her regretful hippie parents in disbelief;
“Well… what was my name then?”
Finally Bill looked up, “It’s my fault Olive. It’s all my fault. Don’t blame your mother.”
Her mother took over “Your name was Kawshit, a beautiful Lebanese name, pronounced “K-aww-sh-eet”. It means to grow. Because we were in Lebanon, we wanted something meaningful and beautiful. And it was. So many people complimented us on your name… that is, until we got back to the States.”
Bill, looked out of the window experiencing horrific deja vu and explained “But when we came back all anyone could say was ‘it sounds like cow shit’, you named your daughter cow shit. How could you?”
Tears started to flow down her cheeks like little willow blossoms falling from a tree.
“You named me COW SHIT and didn’t tell me????” Why? Why? Why would you do that? Didn’t you think… Hmmm maybe it’s not a good idea to give my daughter a name that has the word SHIT in it??? Jesus, you guys, what were you stoned?”
Her mother put her hand on top of hers, now clammy and trembling and said “I’m so so sorry Olive. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t want to traumatize you, so we legally changed your name to Olive when you were 3 and decided it would be best if we just didn’t tell you.”
Olive stared around at her apartment, surveying her own obsession as if from extra virgin eyes; “So, it’s just like I’ve been living this huge lie my whole life… Everything… who I am, what I stand for, it’s all meaningless!”
The three of them fell silent for what felt like an eternity until Bill, in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere said “Well, I suppose your obsession with olives is much better than what would have happened if we hadn’t changed your name. I mean, would you have lived in a barn? Used custom body cream made out of cow dung? Had an intimate affinity to cow-human relationships? Had an unnatural obsession with cows and shit?”
Olive shot him a dirty look and said “ha ha, very funny dad”. Her mother (trying to keep her composure) snickered breaking the weird dysfunctional atmosphere. Soon enough they all began laughing hysterically and Olive (still laughing) said “well I guess this makes up for me not telling you that I eloped last week in Spain.”