KNOB NOSTER, Mo. In spring, the schoolchildren of this small town west of Sedalia and east of Lone Jack can taste a difference in the milk they are served in school cafeterias. “It’s not stale anymore,” says Joe Don Mergen, a 6th grader at Jerry Lumpe Middle School as he tries to conceal his fishsticks beneath green beans. “It tastes like your lawn after you cut the grass.”
That change in flavor is the result of cows switching from barn hay to pasture grass, but agronomists at the University of Central Missouri Extension Office here say something more may be at work than mere freshness dates. “We have seen a disturbing outbreak of triple names over the past few years,” notes Lowell Firke, a professor of plant genetics. “We believe there may be side effects of bovine growth hormone that we haven’t taken into account so far thus yet.”
Jerry Lumpe and mime: Note “silent” mime autograph.
Indeed, a check of birth records at the Pettis County Courthouse for the past five years shows, in addition to traditional combinations such as “Gene Ray” and “Veneta Sue,” a “Joe Don Larry” and a “Betty Bob Louise,” names that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. “We believe that double names may be mutating into tri-name combos that represent a permanent change in the region’s DNA, or even its STP,” says Firke.
“Whadda you lookin’ at, dipwad?”
Bovine growth hormone, or “bovine somatotropin” in scientific nomenclature, whatever that is, is a peptide hormone produced by a cow’s pituitary gland that can be synthesized using recombinant DNA to produce “rBst,” which looks like the name of the bank that foreclosed on your mobile home. rBst has been banned in Canada and a number of other goo-goo liberal countries, but is still available to God-fearing Americans.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Cow
The use of rBst in school lunch and milk breaks since 2004 has resulted in increased name fertility in the midwest, where double names are standard. “I don’t know if the County Registrars are gonna be able to handle the influx,” says Duane Darrelson, who leases copiers to county courthouses from northern Iowa to southeast Missouri and recently took a “30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary” course. “I would say it’s either endemic or epidemic, or maybe both.”
“This will keep you from being crippled with Wanda Jean Marie syndrome.”
Multiple-name clusters including “Larry Don Bob” and “Nae Ann Louise” have been identified in isolated rural areas, and public health officials have ordered WASP name vaccine to halt the spread to urban areas where “Courtney” and “Evan” prevail. “If we can catch a tacky name before it has a chance to incubate,” says Dr. Emil Boone, who has dedicated his life to improving the genetic stock of the midwest, “we can save a child from a life of check-kiting and satellite dish repossession.”