What if they didn’t give us names?

Okay, that’s too difficult for me to imagine. Let’s say they didn’t name me when I was born. How would that play out? My parents — and other relatives — would probably refer to me as “the baby,” and — later — “the boy.” Once old enough to have conversations, I’d surely be asked, “What’s your name?” To which I’d reply (I’m just guessing here) “I don’t know,” or “I don’t have one.”

I’m trying to get some sense of how a “name” defines us. Sure, people change their names all the time. For fun (“The Situation”) and sometimes legally.

Could I get through life without a name? In my head, I’m “me/my/mine” …not Steve. The problem would seem to arise in day-to-day interaction with others. Would I become “the tall guy with the big ears” to some and “the creepy guy at the back of the coffee shop” to others?

Ira Lavine gave this more serious thought in his “science fiction novel of a technocratic false-utopia” This Perfect Day:

“There are only four personal names for men (Bob, Jesus, Karl and Li) and four for women (Anna, Mary, Peace and Yin). Instead of surnames, individuals are distinguished by a nine-character alphanumeric code, their “nameber” (a neologism from “name” and “number”), e.g. WL35S7497.”

The more I think about, the more it seems names — for people or objects or places or whatever — are just handy labels. We could get by without them but if you knew lots of tall guys with big ears, it would be a pain in the ass.