What can I write about as March begins when I’m not a fan of modern politics (thank God Super Tuesday is over; at least voting didn’t take long) or basketball (when will March Madness be over??)?
I could talk about how my oldest brother breaking a hip makes me feel old, except that would make me feel even older with every word, and I prefer the age of 6, thank you very much. But when he fell, he tripped over his guitars, so that’s at least a little cool. Still painful, though. At last report, the guitars were fine, but Mitch needed surgery.
I could talk about people who hold grudges, and who regularly wildly misinterpret what they read and hear, so much so that it leads to them holding more grudges. I could do that, but it would just continue the cycle, and I’m tired. Some of these people are the ones who scream “Democrat hoax” about a virus with no vaccine that’s killed at least nine in the U.S. so far and that cares even less for politics than I do (apparently it’s possible). It’s exhausting.
This is the thought process I go through when I have no idea what to write. As the paragraph above so clearly states, it’s exhausting. Especially when you feel obliged to be both informative and entertaining.
No wonder I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep lately.
But trust Apple News’ aggregated newsfeed to get me back to something I love talking about: words. In this case, names. Years ago when I first started at the newspaper, some colleagues and I kept a funny-name list. I finally tracked it down the other day and was still amazed that someone would name their child Shafungus.
Some of us have names that give a nod to family history, like a child being named after her great-great-great-grandmother. At least a few of the names on that list at the paper, like Condorous Breedlove, were passed through multiple generations. My name ultimately came, my mom told me, from a baby book and one of her high school friends. However, she often told me growing up that, had I been a boy, she and Daddy might have given in to my great-grandma’s wish to have a child named after her husband’s father, my great-great-grandpa.
I would have been Christopher Columbus Looper. I hope she was joking, but you never know.
Even though my home state is not that great for women, according to a recent study from WalletHub (we ranked 49th overall, and dead last in health and safety), I’m really glad I was born one. Although no one in my immediate family got saddled with the whole moniker, two of my nephews have Christopher in their names. Neither use it.
Sorry, Granny Gressett.
But there are worse things to be named. People have the tendency to laugh at unusual names, and you just have to wonder what the parents were thinking. Maybe they were following the advice of Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue” to toughen up their child for the inevitable hard life to come (maybe it wouldn’t be so hard if you weren’t so bad at naming kids).
I’m all for having fun, but do you really want to send your college-graduate kid out on job interviews with a name that sounds like a joke? Random Chance? Espn? Really? But I guess you could always name the child after whatever profession you want him or her to follow. Rob Amen, now digital content leader for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s TribLive website, was once a religion writer. (I so want him to have had a religion column called The Amen Corner.) Steve Drown ended up as the Water Division chief at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality before retiring in the last decade. And who better than Joanne Howl to become a veterinarian?
I’m pretty sure my ancestor Hose Looper was not a fireman, and my cousin Rusty Pipes is not a plumber … but wouldn’t it be great if they were?
I’ve often joked to friends that when I’m queen of the world, parents will have to run kids’ names by me so that no child ever has to suffer the indignity of being named Moronica, Orangello or, God help us, Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii. That’s pretty much the only thing for which you’ll find me advocating Big Brother-type moves. I’m not a fan of kids being picked on because of their names.
Some names have been placed off-limits in various countries, for very good reason.
Don’t, for example, try to name your daughter Nutella in France, as being named after a name-brand Italian cocoa-hazelnut spread “can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.” Or the urge to spread her on toast. And definitely don’t name your child Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced “Albin,” because why not) and tell the court the name is a “pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation.”
Sure, be creative, but this is ridiculous.
The parents of Talula et al. saw their daughter put under court guardianship in New Zealand in 2008 so that she could change her name, with the judge saying such a bizarre name “makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily.” Other names mentioned in the judge’s ruling included Sex Fruit, Violence and Number 16 Bus Shelter. New Zealand prohibits names that “might cause offense to a reasonable person,” and encourages parents to remember that their children must live with the name. Pity poor Number 16 Bus Shelter. Makes me wonder if, like a guy I worked with one summer, the kid was named for where he or she was conceived.
Ew. Double ew.
Lucifer has faced outright bans, such as in Iceland. It’s almost like people don’t think you should name your child after demons or fallen angels (no Beelzebub for you, sorry). Though my dearly departed furkid Luke was often called Lucifer by some who’d faced his wrath, his given name was Lucas, which means “light-giving.” I have no idea what name means “bruise-giving.” Or “blood-letting.” Or “bitey-scratchy.”
Celebrity parents are notorious for bad names. Frank Zappa had Moon Unit, Diva Muffin and Dweezil (Ahmet got off easy). Jason Lee has Pilot Inspektor. Kim Kardashian West has North West. Rob Morrow’s daughter is named Tu.
All of those are bad, but I have to call out Penn Jillette for what he named his daughter: Moxie CrimeFighter. Moxie is now 14, so isn’t driving yet; when she was born, her dad said, “We chose her middle name because when she’s pulled over for speeding she can say, ‘But officer, we’re on the same side. My middle name is CrimeFighter.’”
Penn, Teller will be taking over naming duties. So sayeth the queen of the world.
But the queen of the world is a generous queen, so please enjoy this waving cat. If it were Luke, the middle finger probably would have been extended if he didn’t like you. He was devilish like that.