Snide Remarks #342
"The Nayme Gaimme"

by Eric D. Snider

Published in The (Provo, Utah) Daily Herald on January 19, 2003

If you're like me, you think it's funny that a lot of people have goofy names. If you're not like me, you're one of the people coming up with the goofy names. One of us needs to change his ways, and I think it's you, JuDee.

I write this with the knowledge that I am in danger of offending people I know and like. I have friends with absurd names, and some who have given their children absurd names. The extraordinarily snobbish diatribe that is about to follow should in no way be construed as evidence that I have less than warm feelings for these people, or for the children whose lives they have ruined with cruel names like "JayceSun."

Now, I like fun as much as the next guy -- unless the next guy is Pete Townshend, because hoo-boy, I can't keep up with him! -- but I draw the line at making child-naming time wacky creative fun time. Certain activities are meant to be boring. It means you're doing them right. These include school plays, service projects and naming your children. If fun should break out during any of these undertakings, you should stop immediately and start again.

You see, one of the goals of parenthood -- I am generalizing here -- is that your children will live into adulthood. And if that should happen, and you've saddled him or her with an absurd name -- one that you made up or intentionally misspelled -- then what have you done to his or her chances of being taken seriously? Would you trust a doctor named Kaytelynne? Or a lawyer named M'Kaee? Or a senator named Orrin? (Seriously: "Orrin"?)

The two best places to find ridiculous names are Utah and the National Football League. I don't know why this is. Those two groups have little else in common.

In Utah, there are names like these, all of which I got from the single best silly-name source, the obituary pages: Vonda, Julaine, Luray, Ferral, Ardath, Shyrel, Artell, Gerial, Zelma, and Elna. (Utahns 90 years ago were apparently still a little punch-drunk from the trek west.)

From elsewhere in the paper, I find these actual names of non-elderly Utahns: Jefra, Eunhi, Chanthy, Shurron, Chaulyn and Lyndell.

In the NFL, there are these names, all of which belong to men who were born on Earth: Edgerton, Adalius, Peerless, JoJuan, Canute, Artrell, Ligarius, KaRon, Jashon, Earthwind and Plexico. (How does someone come to be named "Plexico"? Did his parents follow the Utah practice of name compromising, where Dad want to name him Plate, while Mom wanted to call him Mexico, and they combined the two?)

Do you notice that the names of the mostly white Utahns are very similar to those of the mostly African-American NFL players? Perhaps there is common ground between our cultures after all.

I present these rules in naming your children:

1. Don't make up a name. You have to give your child a name that already exists and is a commonly accepted name. That may sound restrictive, but there are literally thousands of perfectly good names to choose from. We don't need any new ones. Civilization is more than 6,000 years old; the brainstorming session is over. I'm sorry you didn't live 200 years ago, when exciting new names were still being forged. But now, in 2002, or whatever, WE'RE DONE. No new names.

2. Don't misspell your kid's name on purpose. Seriously, what are you trying to pull? Violation of Rule No. 2 is usually an effort to circumvent Rule No. 1: We can't make up new names, so we'll misspell an existing name, thus, in a way, making a new name!

No. You can't do this. It's not clever; it just looks like you canít spell. It also does not distinguish your child from the other children with the same name. When the teacher calls on Michael, it will sound the same as if she is calling on Mikkal, MyKle or Mighkull. She should not have to differentiate between traditional-spelling Michael and all the train-wreck-spelling Michaels in the class.

3. You are entitled to one capital letter per name. Do not deplete our nationís supply of capital letters by wedging two or more of them into one name.

4. No one takes women seriously whose first names end with two e's. I'm sorry, but it's true.

5. You have a friend who says he or she once encountered two people named Lemonjello and Oranjello. But your friend is lying. Those people exist only in urban legend. Stop saying you've heard of them, because you havenít.

COMMENTS & REACTION: I really do look at the obituary pages every morning to see what funny-named people have died. The Vondas, in particular, seem to be dropping like flies. I predict that within five years, there will be no more living Vondas.

After this column appeared, I received three e-mails from people claiming to have known someone named S***head (pronounced "Sha-THAYD"). This is untrue, of course; S***head is another urban legend, and if I had been allowed to say S***head in the newspaper, I would have mentioned it in the column. Anyway, I wrote back to these people and let them know they were lying about knowing S***head, and none of them wrote back to insist they were telling the truth. So I'm glad we settled that.