For two years my mother and her sister were called This One and That One. The family story was that my mother and her identical twin sister were not legally named until they were about two years old. I don’t know if my grandparents didn’t already have names prepared because twins coming out threw them for a loop, or in olden times you just didn’t even think about names until there was an actual live birth or if maybe it was because it had been ten years since their first born and by the time this duo appeared my grandparents were just in a “been there, done that” haze, figuring that they’d get around to it eventually. My mother said it was because one of her older sisters, Vesta, not Billie Sue, would instantly bastardize any prospective names into grating nicknames that drove their mother batty. I have no idea if this is true, but Carolyn and Charlotte eventually made it into the county records.
Recently there have been several stories in the news about parents experiencing “Baby Name Regret Syndrome”. Really? Can this be a shock? Is it because people are now naming their children impulsively, without thinking about the long-term effect of having a “cool” or an “ironic” name? You need to save those sorts of monikers for your pets. The research cited in articles has been mainly concerned with pointing to the myriad of kooky names that celebrities adore festooning their children with. And there are many, like: Bronx Mowgli (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz), Blue Ivy (Beyonce & Jay Z), Moxie Crimefighter (Penn Jillette), Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee) Bear Blu (Alicia Silverstone), Antonio Kamakanaaolhamaikalani Harvey Sabato III (Antonia Sabato, Jr.), Moroccan and Monroe (Nick Cannon & Mariah Carey), Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie (Bob Geldolf & Paula Yates) Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily (Paula Yates & Michael Hutchence), Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen (Frank Zappa), Zuma Nesta Rock (Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale) … the list could do on for pages.
I agree that those are all truly awful, but I doubt that any of those parents have the slightest regret over their unique choices. But those poor kids! Mon Dieu. And I thought that being named after my Aunt, Charlotte, was a cross to bear what with it being long and difficult to spell. Can you imagine Jason Lee’s kid having to ever do anything at the Social Security office? “Yes, Pilot Inspektor…no, Inspektor is with a ‘k’, my parents thought it would be more custom than Inspector with a ‘c’…Yes, that is why I am here; I was just granted the court’s permission to legally change my name to Pete Jones.”
My favorite celebrity name goes to the son of Jermaine Jackson. I think he was trying to send a message to his little brother, Michael, whose children’s names are Prince, Paris and Prince II (the name so nice, he used it twice!). The message is that Jermaine’s child is also Jackson family royalty…hence the boy’s name: Jermajesty. Take that, Blanket.
Sometime’s parents take their naming inspiration from iconic brands or products that they feel convey certain panache: Mercedes, Tiffany, Remington, Porsche, Brandy, Diamond, Bentley and so on. Couples who thought a destination wedding was a good idea might be partial to destination names such as Brooklyn, Dakota, London, Sierra or Phoenix. If you catch an episode of Toddlers and Tiara’s, on accident…of course, you can hear a lot of names that are certain to catapult a prostitot to future success. Can’t you see your future self, handing over control of your portfolio to a broker named Paisley, Sparkyl, or Kragen? Perusing the Social Security site, it is clear that many parents will go to great lengths to make sure the letters “j”, “k”, “y” or “z” find their way onto the family tree: Kaylynn, Jayden, Jazlyn, Xzander, Kloe.
Living in the South, I am used to people having some eccentric “family names” or having a last name for a first or middle name. Heritage names are popular with everyone. And there is no shortage of names that hearken to a family of French origin, like La Quon, or nod to a family’s obvious Greek heritage with something like Shantavious. But the names that totally throw me into fits are the ones that are just made up words, blends of other names or common names that have a custom spelling, so that the child will grow up feeling special. By and large, I’ll bet they grow up realizing that their momma is illiterate and didn’t know how to spell.
A couple of summers back, I was being checked out at a Wal-Mart in Florida by a woman whose nametag was a cluster of letters…”Sh’airaleete”. Yes, there was the telltale apostrophe of high-class in there. I couldn’t resist commenting on what an unusual name she had. I then asked, “How do you pronounce it?” I was almost knocked over when she said, “It Charlotte.” Um, no.