Don't front as if you have no idea what I'm talking about. The U.S. Census Bureau even puts out lists of crazy names - people naming their kids after hard liquor, luxury cars, canned vegetables.
And with every out-there name, most of us have gotten a good chuckle or shared an incredulous look with someone else.
So I was on the phone earlier with a buddy who reminded me of a friendly debate we had recently while watching one of those celeb living shows on VH-1. This particular show was about celebrity baby names. And, yes, we laughed scornfully at the Apples and the Fifi Trixibelles and the Tiger Lily Heavenly Hiranis and the Daisy Boos.
Here's the thing though - in the end at least we were laughing at the celeb baby names. But we both agreed that often when we hear some of the other crazy names I referenced at the top we don't just laugh. We also shake our heads in pity...for the children.
Now, the premise of my argument is that I believe middle-of-the-road people, Average Joe and Jane America can be subconsciously suspicious of and condescending to people with "different" names the same way some of us are subconsciously suspicious of people of different races sometimes.
You don't think so? Remember the early '90s sitcom Martin, starring comedian Martin Lawrence? One of the many characters Lawrence played was his wild across-the-hall neighbor Sheneneh (pronounced Chez Ne Ne). Sheneneh was what pop culture "experts" (and comedians) called ghetto fabulous. And as the joke grew and Martin's fan base grew, an association developed between Sheneneh's name, her tacky ways...and her appearance. People began referring to their goofy neighbor or their loud, mannerless friend as Sheneneh. I called my own sister Sheneneh as a joke and to get under her skin, though, for the record, she was/is attractive and classy.
Relax though. Don't get all squeamish and squirmy, because the name game is not about race these days. It's about money.
If you're born to money and/or a prominent family your folks can name you "Dog Crap Murphy." And as long as the $$$ haven't dried up by the time you reach coolness-necessary age you will be fine. People will be nice to you. If you're a guy girls will dig you and other guys will want to be you. If you're a girl, guys will dig you and other girls will hate you anyway, 'cause that's just what they do. You could run for president or become a Hollywood star yourself. Eventually fans, normal people, will start naming their pets and their children after you. People will proudly hold up their babies: Dog Crap Smith, Dog Crap Lewinsky, Dog Crap Jenkins, Dog Crap Rivera, Dog Crap Chang.
On the other hand, if you're born poor and entering this life with a lump of coal rather than a lucky horse shoe in your diaper, and your folks give you a dumb name? You are screwed...unless your parents are artistic types who are expected to buck convention, or unless you grow up and learn you have an amazing: athletic talent, acting talent, singing talent, or to a lesser degree in terms of popularity, literary or theatrical writing talent.
So if you have a baby on the way and you're unsure of a name for him/her ask yourself these questions: Am I rich? Am I in line to inherit a lot of money by the time my child turns 10 or 12-years-old? Am I a certified hippie? Am I an artist - not just in my own mind, but a person whose art work is recognized? Am I famous for being an actor, singer, superb athlete, or for having posed naked in a gentleman's (or ladies') magazine?
If you can't say yes to one or more of those questions, do yourself a favor. Give your kid a safety name, a name so plain and so common that your kid's peers will be forced to make fun of him for something else, like weight or clumsiness.
Right about now, I'm thinking "James" sounds pretty darn good if any of you soon-to-be parents are still stumped.
Labels: baby names