Like the pine trees lining the empty road, Ive got a name. And I carry it with me like my father did. Jim Croce
If Shakespeare questioned the true contents of a name, why wouldnt we lesser mortals consider giving that very same issue at least a passing thought? Naming a baby is bestowing a title, planting the seed, if you will, for a legacy. It is without question, the most important title of a lifetime. A name remains like a permanent cloud over ones head, starting in infancy and remaining, like an unwanted houseguest. A mocked child often grows into an adult no one wants to live next door to or turn his or her back upon. Would be parents unite and pay a visit to The Institute For Naming Children Humanely before selecting a name for your sweet little bundle of original sin!
A number of years ago, a very funny man wrote a very funny little book called Remarkable Names of Remarkable People. His name is John Train (Could be worse. Could have been Choo-Choo Train). Believe it or not, some of the names presented in his book are just as ludicrous as that, topping the list with Positive Wasserman Johnson, a prostitute named Buncha Love, George Baretits of The US Army, Thomas Crapper of toilet fame and Sir Cloudsley Shovel, an admiral of the British Navy.
Since no bell seems to ring when a good name is chosen, how can we know when we have picked a bad one? Well, there are several pitfalls; the first to be considered is not to name a child after food, plants, locations or historical events. Besides what obviously sounds ridiculous, some clues may be found in the following examples: The Baroness Gaby Von Bagge of Boo, Rosebud Rosenbloom, Rosetta Stone and Bambina Broccoli. While nothing at all can be done about a silly surname, don't compound the problem by adding a silly first name. (Consider here Fifi FuFu and Private Parts of the US Army.) It might be a good idea to stay away from names that can be associated with every day words and associations. The following is a list of actual names taken from Mr. Trains hysterical book, other sources and my own ridiculous acquaintances. (I personally met Fifi Fufu and somehow managed to keep a straight face.) In all of these cases, the names werent changed to protect the innocent.
Consider Rainy Day, a girl I went to elementary school with and she really was. Then theres Dong Dong Dong, Lord and Lady Bastard, authoress, Madame Fouqueau De Pussy, Ima Hogg and Yura Hogg of Texas, Caresse Pecor from the University of Vermont, Reverend Canaan Banana of Rhodesia and Luscious Pea from the Charity Hospital in New Orleans. In the home furnishings department we have Shanda Lear from Battle Creek, Michigan and body parts runners-ups, Miss Pensive Cock of the U.S. Army, Ophelia Legg of Norwalk, Ohio, Ann Aas of Pittsburgh, Fanny Finger and Violet Organ (art historian, New York City).
Then there are those funny names that just happen to coincide with what the child grows up to be. Is this coincidence or self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps only their hairdresser knows for sure, but consider the following anyway: Mr. Vroom, motor cycle dealer of Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Dr. Zoltan Ovary, gynecologist, New York Hospital; Wyre and Tapping, detectives, New York City; Ronald Supena, lawyer; Mrs. Screech, singing teacher, Victoria, British Columbia; Mr. Bloom, horticulturist; Lawless and Lynch, attorneys from Jamaica, New York; the Katz Pajama Company, New York City; Climax Underwear Company of Cincinatti, Ohio; Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines and last but not least, A. Moron, Commissioner of Education in The Virgin Islands.
Did you ever in your entire life? Well, how about what happens when parents name their children after someone famous? Results can be disastrous as illustrated by the following list: Aristotle Tottle, English pirate; Plato Foufas of Chicago; Mr. Venus Bonaparte of London; Salome Cassanova of Havana, Cuba; Aphrodite Chuckass, and William McKinley Louisiana Leveebust Smith of Richmond, Virginia.
There are also ethnic combination crossovers that can be positively mortifying. Please evaluate: Ave Maria Klinkenberg of New York City, Santiago Nudelman of Brazil, Siddhartha Greenblatt and Heidi Yum-Yum Gluck.
How about names that have unfortunate connotations? Here we must include: Joy Bang of New York City; Friendly Ley of Mission Hills, California; Lettice Goedebed of South Africa and dont forget poor little Mary Lou Pantzaroff from Ohio.
Finally there are those names that common sense should tell you to avoid because they are just plain ridiculous. Obviously the following people had parents who didnt feel that way. Consider: Newton Hooton of Massachusetts, High Pugh of England, Nita Bath of Philadelphia, Cigar Stubbs of Florida, Basil Crapster of Princeton University class of 1944 and Horacine Clutch of Pelham, New York.
As you can see, the question of whats in a name has many answers. In these cases, all of them are silly. Dont let this happen to your child. If uncertain as to how a name feels, roll it around your tongue and ask yourself if you could live with such a choice. If you cant, your child certainly cant. You might even consider changing your own name to the one you want for your child and live with it for a while. If that sounds too drastic, then just take a deep breath and think about roses. It worked for Shakespeare. It might for you too.
Did you know . . .
Here's a book that could help you choose:
Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana:
What To Name Your Baby Now
by Linda Rosenkrantz, Pamela Redmond Satran
As Sigmund Freud once said, "A human being's name is a principal component in her person, perhaps a piece of his soul." In this book, name experts Satran and Rosenkrantz provide a thorough history of American naming traditions, discuss the psychological and sociological impact of names, and, yes, include many lists of possibilities organized into categories. Annotated with humorous notes, descriptions, quotes, and name-derivation definitions, the book is a fun and fascinating read even for those not debating between Gravity and Jane or Mason and Hendrick.