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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Name Game

Have you ever looked at someone's name and wondered what the heck their parents were thinking? I think that celebrities are among the worst offenders. They seem to forget that in spite of all of their fortune and privilege, they still reside in the real world. I'm sure that one of the first examples that comes to many people's minds is a baby named North West. I remember reading, before the baby was born, that the name would be North. I thought, no, this is just a big joke. I have to wonder, is the younger sibling going to be called South West?

I'm all for individuality, and I love to hear a person's story of how their parents came up with their name. One of my favorites was a young woman named Portia. When she told me her name, I wasn't sure whether it was Portia, like the Shakespearean character, or Porsche, like the car. Her parents loved the works of Shakespeare, so she was named after the character from The Merchant of Venice. But how do you explain names like Apple and Moses, the children of Gwyneth Paltrow? "Um, yeah, my mom named me Apple because she likes to eat apples." 

The names I've just mentioned are nothing more than just a bit odd, though. How about Nicolas Cage naming his child Kal-El, like Superman? What is a kid with a name like that going to have to deal with in school? I imagine that even in a private or boarding school, some kid is going to give that child grief over his unusual name. We also have, with the famous parents in parentheses, Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee), Sage Moonblood (Sylvester Stallone), Fifi Trixibelle (Bob Geldof), Moxie Crimefighter (Penn Jillette), and Moon Unit (Frank Zappa). 

It isn't just celebrities that come up with odd names, though. I feel sorry for a child that grows up with the name Hashtag. And there's Indica and Sativa, which are varieties of marijuana. Regular folks have also given their children the names Alias, Kindle, Couture, Zeppelin, Remedy, and Halo. Can you imagine the daily struggles? It's the school's spring fling, and one kid walks up to another to ask them to dance. "Hi, I'm Awesome. Wanna dance?" 

And don't even get me started on the first-and-last name humor. Yes, there are people whose parents have named them Ben Dover. They may even be related to the people who gave their son the name Scab Dover. "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Scab Dover!" or "Elect me, Ben Dover, and I will make you happy." I've also seen such gems as Rainbow Moonchild and Imma Virgen.

It makes me kind of glad that when my guardian told me that I could no longer use my first name because it was also her daughter's name, she got it all wrong. She told me that I would now be called by my middle name, which was Katrina. It's been kind of cool having a name that's unusual but not weird. Of course, now that there's been a horrific hurricane with my name, I get some funny reactions. Right after the storm, I would introduce myyself to someone and their face would light up. "Oh, yeah, just like..." and then they would get embarrassed or sad for me. Hey, it was my name first! So nowadays I spare people the potential bad feelings. I walk up to them and extend my hand for a handshake. I say, "Hi, my name is Katrina. Like the hurricane, but slightly nicer." It gives them permission to make the mental association without feeling bad about it.

Let's face it, people will name their kids whatever they want to, without any regard to the kid's future. I guess I look at it differently because even though my name is fairly average, I got bullied over it on a few occasions. There were a few boys in my elementary school that took great joy in telling me that my name couldn't possibly be Katrina. "Your real name can't be Katrina. Katrina is a pretty name and you're ugly, so your name isn't Katrina." Whatever.

By the way, my actual middle name was Catherine. Where did Katrina come from? My guardian's brother had a fat, cranky dachsund named Katrina. Like Indiana Jones, who was played by Harrison Ford (with whom I share a birthday), I was named after the dog!


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