We call him that often enough that I tend to use the moniker when I write about him and when I talk about him at work, often to people who don't know the origin of the nickname. I get asked about it often enough that I figure I should record the story somewhere, before the day comes when he asks me, "Mom, why DO you and Dad call me "Mog," anyway?," and I have to answer, "Hmmm...you know...I really don't remember..."
Long before Eli and I ever decided to have a child together, we joked that any kid of ours would inevitably be a homely, scrawny, hairy, sickly little ape, inheriting the worst of both our qualities. He or she would have my allergies and asthma, Eli's propensity for stupid accidents, and a bony, spindly physique handed down from both of us. (We were both late bloomers, though while Eli is still pretty spindly, I think it's safe to say I've filled out. Understatement. *cough*) Looking back, I suppose our kidding each other about the inherent hideousness of our spawn was a defense mechanism, born of anxiety and fear on both sides. We didn't take procreation lightly. We were married for seven years before Mog was born. There was a lot of hemming and hawing, back and forth, weighing of pros and cons of becoming parents.
But finally, we took the leap.
When I became pregnant, the speculation about our future child increased in frequency, but it was always still the same. We referred to him or her as the monkey baby, the yeti, and eventually, and most often, as the mogwai. We pretty much considered it a given that any baby of ours would be...well...let's face it...ugly. (I know some people will claim there's no such thing as an ugly baby, but please. Get real. There are some ugly freaking babies out there. I've seen 'em. And you know you have too; don't pretend that you haven't.)
Why mogwai? Because there tends to be this...phenomenon...that happens with particularly skinny kids, where their eyes seem a little bulgy and too big for their face (Did you know eyes are the only parts of the body that don't grow as you age? It's true: you're born with the same size eyes you'll have as an adult), and the skin around these kids' eyes has a sort of fold to it, or sort of a tiny pudgy bag underneath the eye. I'm not describing this very well, so let me just show you. This is a school photo of my dear sweet husband, taken in 1986.
You see what I'm talking about there--with the eye bags? No, seriously, look PAST the gigantic new front teeth he's sporting, the unfortunate haircut, and those devastating eyebrows. Look at his eyes.
Now, take a look at this little guy, also a child of the 80's:
Boom! Spitting image, right?!
So we, or maybe just I, presumed that our baby was destined to be a Mogwai. Just like his daddy.
And so somehow, and I'm pretty sure it was before he was born, we started referring to him as the "mogwai." Because you've gotta call a baby something, and you can't just refer to him or her as "it," even before you know the gender. "It" is too impersonal, but a name, a real name, is too real at this point. You don't want to get overly attached and risk jinxing the viability of the little bean (or at least that was my warped, glass half empty perspective.) In any case, we hadn't decided on a name yet and it would still be awhile before a sonogram would reveal it was a son I was carrying. So, the "mogwai" it was.
The sweetest part about this story, I think, is that when Eliot was born, one of the first things Eli said to me after we were all three reunited in the hospital room (after my c-section), was that he had been all prepared to tell me our child was beautiful. He had psyched himself up to assure me that Eliot was the most beautiful baby he'd ever seen (assuming that it would be a lie). And then he said, "But when I saw him, I knew I didn't have to lie. He really IS beautiful! He really is."
And he was. He was the most beautiful baby. Not a Mogwai at all. Not even close.
But by then, the name had stuck. He was already "Mogwai," and then, soon enough, just "Mog."
When people ask, I usually tell them he's Mog because we're still waiting for him to turn into a gremlin. And that's true too.
But oh what a beautiful little gremlin he'll make. I do so love those eyebrows.