Simpsons Plot Fodder

February 12, 2009

Getting my hair cut always yields a story or two. That’s because the two barbers and their clients talk a lot. Today the friendly banter included my barber, Horace, recounting how he attended Portland’s Lincoln High School in the 1970s, overlapping for a year with Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons.

“We talked occasionally even though I was a freshman and he was a senior,” Horace said.

Then Horace told me his last name, which I should have known considering he’s cut my hair for two years. “It’s Simpson.”

Naturally I asked whether he thinks his name inspired Groening to name the television show’s iconic character, Homer Simpson.

“Not a chance,” said Horace, whose personality and looks bear no resemblance to the cartoon character. “But I have an uncle in Texas named Homer Simpson.” That one had to give up the phone number he’d had for 25 years when the TV show proved wildly popular. Too many cranks calls.

For the record, Groening has given conflicting accounts of the name’s genesis: after his father, Homer Groening, and after a main character in a Nathaniel West novel, Day of the Locust, named Homer Simpson.

Maybe there’s plot fodder for a Simpsons episode in this name game .