Parental Name-Calling

Originally posted May 18, 2011

I rang my doctor at 10:00 a.m.   Worked my way thru oodles of computerized menus and settled on option 3 of menu 6.  Remarkably I reached the reception desk.  Remarkable because that’s where I’d hoped the mysterious wavelengths would lead me, and with all of the key punching it took to get there I figured my chances somewhere near those of a Chihuahua in a litter of Pitbulls.   
I heard Valeesa’s spiritless voice on the other end thanking me for calling but she wasn’t even remotely convincing.  I wasn’t buying her gratitude.  Honestly I can’t promise you her name is Valeesa.  It starts with a V and ends with “uh” but I gave up trying to understand the pronunciation months ago.  I asked to speak to the doctor’s nurse and even called her by name.  Hers was one I had made a real attempt to pronounce correctly.  But then V-something-uh  dropped the bomb when she said, “Did you want Teneeka or Shaneeka?”   And my cynical mind silently screamed, “Seriously?!?  Those aren’t even REAL names!  Didn’t any of your parents read ‘Freakonomics’?!?”
 I’m starting to believe that parenting should be government regulated with the reading of and subsequent testing on Chapter 6 of “Freakonomics” as a prerequisite to having sex.   That reading requirement alone may very well put a dent in the number of unplanned pregnancies  . . . . .  and save us all from the barrage of faux names that parents keep inventing as part of a misguided belief that wacky names reflect something profound.  Well, they don’t, Hemingway.  They’re the social equivalent to a “kick me” signed pasted to your kid’s butt.  
Oh, put away your laminated Race Card.  This is an equal opportunity offense that knows no racial boundaries.   While the African American community is fond of adding a bunch of nonsensical syllables together to form names like Tashawndra, Shafiqah and Damarcus, those of us from the south prefer one or two syllable names that we can stretch into four.   And if you don’t believe me I promise that I personally know the following real life people:   Junebug, Boyce and Royce (twins who went by the nicknames Peeny and Jigs), Clyde, Yunel, and Gaynelle.    
The latest trend in parental name-calling is coming out of Hollywood.  And I use the word Hollywood as an all-inclusive term for celebrity nonsense.   See, they want us to believe that they are artists with an elevated sense of creativity.  So they sacrifice the dignity of their children by branding them with outlandish names that make us wince. While the rest of us go “I don’t get it! I don’t get it!”,  they sit back smugly, eating miniature corn and caviar that they don’t even like, and expounding on the inspiration that resulted in their child’s humiliation.
Let’s review a few of my favorite idiotic tales of parental name-calling:

1.  Seven was the “original” baby name that George Costanza served up to his fiance Susan.  She basically tells him there’s no way in Hell any child of hers will be called Seven.  But its Mickey Mantle’s number and in George’s mind it’s a beautiful tribute and he decides it’s settled.  Several days later George tells Jerry that Susan is weakening toward the name.  Jerry responds,  “You know, George, just because your life is destroyed, don’t destroy someone else’s.”

And I say all that just to tell you that Erykah Badu named her child Seven.  Enough said.

2.  Was Gwynneth Paltrow on postpartum depression meds when she named her daughter Apple?    She set that kid up for a lifetime of torture.  Not only that, it’s just a really dumb name, only slightly less asinine than Seve   Moon Unit Zappa?  Dweezil Zappa?  Geez.  Their father should have been euthanized for that.  It sure earned Moon accolades as the girl who single-handedly destroyed the English language when she introduced us to Val-Speak on her dad’s hit single “Valley Girl.”  It was the beginning of the repetitive use of the word “like” in the most unexplained places in conversation.  Like gag me with a spoon . . . like.

3.  David Duchovny and Tea Leoni have a kid named Kyd.  What a sad commentary on parenting.  My in-laws did that to a cat one time.  Named it Kitty.  We thought it was funny and very efficient.  The Duchovnys should go ahead and set up a trust for Kyd to be used toward his years of therapy where he’ll lament the fact that his parents were too busy to give him an identity and too lazy to try to remember a real name.

4.  How about Herman Webster Mudgett?  First documented serial killer in the US.  Who could blame him?  There’s not a lot one can do about a surname.  Beside’s it’s a family heritage that should be respected.   But try to work on the given and middle names to soften the blow a bit.

5.  Let’s talk about Jermaine Jackson.  He has a gaggle of kids with about 5 different women and they all have names that he completely pulled out of his butt and/or misspelled.   Jermaine La Jaune, Autumn, Dawn, Jeremy, Jaimy (wrong!  Learn to spell!), Jasmine, Jourdynn (which I think is pronounced Jer-dinn), Donte, Jaffar.   But the most ludicrous are Imperial Jackson and Jermajesty Jackson!

    I need help understanding this.  I used to think Michael’s kids’ names, Prince Michael and
    Prince Michael II (aka Blanket), were weird.  Michael himself was weird anyway, but he was also
    the King of Pop AND named the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World
    Records so one could connect the dots and make a little bit of sense out of the names.
    But Jermaine?!?!  The dude has had one minor hit song since Michael started shedding himself
    of the dead weight back in 1979.   He even married Berry Gordy’s daughter but still couldn’t
    get a gig at the local mall!  He tried to tap into the UK market with big-budget high-profile
    shows like Celebrity Big Brother UK and a string of other crappy UK reality shows but, alas . . .
    his career remains in hiding.  
    So, back to his kids.   What do you suppose the reaction is by sane people who meet these
    kids?  I’d have trouble even calling them by name without laughing so hard I blew my nose.  I’d    
    be referring to everyone in the bar by their “Jer-name” and ordering Jergaritas and Jerbeer! 
    Ok, I already do that but I’m just sayin that these kids are doomed.    
I know a little something about identity trauma myself.  I was born Jamie Rose Fulks.  Now, first of all, my last name was Fulks.  I don’t think that needs any further commentary.   
I was named Jamie after my Dad, who was a James, and Jamie Lee Curtis, who’s father was Tony Curtis and perhaps the Johnny Depp of his day in my Mom’s eyes.  I always liked the name.  There were very few of us back then and my first encounter with another Jamie was a little boy in kindergarten who stayed angry with me for a year because the teacher called him James to reduce confusion.  
But then my evil parents tagged me with the name Rose!   It was a family  name.  My parents each had a sister named Rose, but I wasn’t onboard with the whole thing.  It was an old-fashioned name and by the time I went to Kindergarten, I knew there was a contemporary, fashion-forward woman inside me just waiting to emerge.  
And then one day, as an adult, a client said to me, “So . . . .how do you feel about your name?   Jamie, I mean.”     
 “I’ve always kind of liked it.” I said.  “I like being named after my Dad, and I get a kick out of all the mail and phone messages I get for Mr. Jamie Kern.  Why do you ask?”    
“Well . .  .,” he said, “my sister is pregnant with a little girl and wants to name her Jamie.  But my mother is having a fit about it.”
“Why?”  I asked
“She just things it sounds too much like a cheerleader’s name.”
A cheerleader?!?!?!   I kept a frozen smile on my face until I left and when I got into my car, I gave him a tongue lashing that he would never have forgotten . . .had he been able to hear it! 
The truth of the matter is that society does react to a name and while we want to be remembered, we don’t want to go down in infamy as the kid who peed his pants in first grade, the girl who tucked her skirt in her panty hose and then paraded her butt thru a crowded bar, or even the poor sap who’s mom named him Leonard Smalls.  
I’m still good with my name and over the years I’ve even grown fond of Rose.  It’s timeless and beautiful just like the aunts for whom I was named.   My husband and close friends refer to me as Rosie and I’ve come to love the sound of it.    Fortunately my insecurities were those of a kid who didn’t want to have a grown up name at 6 years old and NOT because my parents named me something ridiculous like  Tophat, Jawandina or Lizella!
Oh!  I need to cut this short.   I have a voice mail from my doctor’s finance office and I need to call Cutie (or Kewtee?) right back before she leaves for the day. 
I’m not even kidding . . . . .  .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s