John Hodgman on His Daughter, Hodgmina


Author/minor celebrity/hobothusiast John Hodgman is a man of many talents. He's an author, actor, and even Resident Expert on The Daily Show. I'll admit, I'm kind of a fan. Today I'd like to share Hodgman's essay Hodgmina from 2003, about his then-just-born daughter. "Hodgmina" is of course a pseudonym he uses to protect her true identity; Hodgman explains: "I would like her to have some semblance of a childhood before she inevitably becomes a famous public personality like her father; so to protect her privacy, I will refer to my daughter herewith only as 'Hodgmina.'" Good luck with that, Hodgman. The paparazzi will be all over this kid any day now, if she's half as tweedy and bookish as you are.

In his "Hodgmina" essay, Hodgman excerpts a fictitious parenting book about his precocious daughter. It's great. Similar material appeared in Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise, slightly edited, referenced as Untitled Book About Hodgmina -- clearly cribbed from this essay in a desperate attempt to increase his first book's page count. Here are a few choice bits:

This from the introduction, "Why Children Are Better Than Monkeys": Children are better than monkeys for several reasons. One reason is that they are not yammering away in sign language all the time. Before the age of two, many of them do not even know the English language. The other reasons that children are better than monkeys are secret, but you can read about them in my book. This is from Chapter 47, "Some Children Cannot Walk": I have learned that many children who are only four months old have difficulty walking. This makes it nearly impossible to send them on even the simplest errands. For example, I recently asked Hodgmina to go to the pharmacy and get daddy's special medicine. She replied by jerking her hands around a lot and then farting. I explained that it was OK, the pharmacist knows daddy very well, and if the pharmacist is in the back sleeping on his little army cot again, just go behind the counter and take whatever you need. Then she started to cry. I never could bear a woman's tears. So I said: fine. I instead wrote a note to the pharmacist, pinned it to Hodgmina's Gap brand cowboy shirt, and handed her to a passing vagrant who I hoped knew the way.

Read the rest of this charming essay in The Believer. See also: a Powell's Books interview with Hodgman in which he admits to "forgetting" to write his book on Hodgmina. We're waiting, Hodgman. Warm up that typewriter, get your Cosby cardigan on, and produce!