What’s in a name?

The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that a Pataskala woman has had her name legally changed to Sexy because her first name, Sheila, was ugly and she hated it. (No offense to Sheilas everywhere). When the judge asked her for her reasoning, she said, “I feel like I’m a free-spirited person, I love to have fun, and this is the last piece to make my life complete.” Her proof of her claim was that she always wears Victoria’s Secrets clothes. (No offense to those who wear VS clothes. I wonder why she didn’t change her name to Victoria? I suppose that’s a secret.)

She is now officially, legally named Sexy Crabtree. (Yes, you read that right.) Her husband and daughters approved. That must make for interesting situations at school and the bank. Will Sexy use her middle name at church? I guess there’s no law against being Sexy under the steeple.

At any rate, after reading the article, I started thinking about the power of names. My sister, Gayle, changed her name several years ago. She ridded herself of a few names she disliked and took a new name which better defined her. (No, her middle name is not Sexy.)

Names are powerful. Am I the only one who remembers the song “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash? The poor kid had such a rough life that he grew up tough. From his father’s point of view, Daddy dear had done the boy a favor. Since he knew he wouldn’t be around to rear him, he gave his son a name that would either kill him or make him strong. (I don’t swallow that.)

I thought of the names of Austen’s characters. How could Wickham be anything but bad? The makings of “wicked” are right there in the name. Edward, Fitzwilliam, and Frederick are all honorable names. Think of Willoughby. He bends with the winds like a willow tree. Anne is not forceful, though she is not weak. Elizabeth means “oath of my God” and is a name of queens (as are Anne and Catherine). Neither of Austen’s Elizabeths are passive, sweet characters. They take charge. How could Elinor be anything other than practical, and how could Marianne not be flighty?

Dickens and Hawthorne were masters of matching names with character. I could do a thesis on that subject.

Would Thor or Hercules be as impressive if they were named Sammy or Junior? I think not.

Names mean something. Parents should reconsider before saddling their child with an unpronounceable, badly spelled, hyphenated, name which is sprinkled with apostrophes. The name which is cute for a toddler is not as suited to a adult in a dignified profession.

robin_logoI would change my first name, but my mother gave it to me, and I never use it. Not many people even know what my full name is, but it should be a little less stiff. My middle name, Robin, is androgynous. No wonder I’m so confused. I’m named for a soap opera star and a comic book character. However, I do have a cool logo, even if I am a sidekick.

If you could choose a new name, what would it be?

 

 

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

      1. Gayle Mills

        How would you like to go through life saying, “Hello, I’m Gaye.” The looks were getting to me.

        My kids will have to put AKA on my tombstone: Norma Gaye Mills Hill Gayle Griffin Mills.

        Like

        Reply
  1. Christine N.

    My husband and I are currently in the midst of negotiations over our foster daughter’s potential adoptive name. We have always had an easy time naming boys but for some reason all three of our girls have been so hard. This post made me smile. Thank you.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      If I made you smile, Christine, by my standards, my day is a success – and it’s only 11 AM here.

      My older daughter and her hubs are currently in the same negotiations. I think they will have a girl named Charlie – sort of like a boy named Sue. 😉

      Like

      Reply
  2. Susan Kaye

    My real name is Susan, but I have always called myself Sue. The song mentioned gave our family a smile as the last line is, “I’ll call him Bill or George or anything but Sue.” My dad’s name is Bill (as is my husband’s), and my brother’s name is George. Johnny got us all in one song.

    Anyhow, I used to want to change my name, my nose, and other ancillary stuff. Now, I’ll stick with Sue. Though since taking Susan as my writing name, I’ve grown a bit more fond of it.

    What I have always wanted is a nickname. Like Bones from the books and TV show. Speaking of Bones, and the power of names, there was an episode several years ago in which the victim was a member of a Death Metal band, named something vile for the stage. As they were looking for his real name, one of the characters said that it’s a big let down when you find out that Satan’s real name is Todd or Larry. I think this fits with your observations, Robin.

    Who is the soap star you’re named after?

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      Strangely enough, Susan, I hated the name so much I never asked mother which character on what soap I was named for. I just remember that she told me once that Judith came from a soap opera.

      Like

      Reply
    2. Laura Hile

      You want a nickname? We’ll give you a nickname! Bones is kind of doctorly. How about Nibs?

      Kidding, but I like it. It has a writerly vibe, being the pointed end of a pen—nice and sharp.

      I looked up alternative meanings:

      A British slang term used, jokingly, to refer to someone who is a bit full of himself, snobbish, and/or aristocratic. Who, basically, has an over-large ego. [Ha!]
      The origin of the term is unknown for certain.

      “Is his nibs over there too good to eat with us?”

      So we’ll keep it without the possessive pronoun.

      Best not to delve too deep at Urban Dictionary, however.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Robin Helm Post author

        I agree. The Urban Dictionary might give you meanings to words that ruin the words for you. I don’t want to think of some nasty meaning instead of the original meaning of the word.

        Like

        Reply
  3. Stephanie Mudd Carrico

    I like and use my first name Stephanie, although I was to be Gretchen but at the last minute my dad vetoed it and named me Stephanie( thanks daddy) but I have never liked my middle name Lynn…so when I married I legally changed my middle name to my maiden name….very few remember my name was Lynn….

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I like both Stephanie and Lynn, but Gretchen is a little too “Hansel and Gretel” for me. My grandmother wanted me to be named “Rosemary” after her. When I think of that, I’m very thankful that my mother named me Judith.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Laura Hile

    I did change my name–for a year. It was pre-Little House on the Prairie (TV show), and there were very few Lauras. But there were plenty of Loris. So in middle school I began calling myself Laurie. It lasted for most of 7th grade. I found I preferred the original, even though it was a little too grown-up for me.

    I was born eight weeks premature, so my parents had to come up with a name fast. My dad dabbled with the name Oceania, for we were a sailing family. In the end he chose his favorite song, Laura by David Raskin, featured in the 1945 movie by that name.

    In 1984 I met David Raskin when a window tinting company I worked for treated the windows in his studio. I smile to remember, for it was a converted garage in Studio City, California–a modestly tony address–nothing fancy, most definitely the workspace of a dedicated musician. He was a delightful old fellow. More than a few women, he said, were named after his beautiful song, and he was genuinely pleased to meet me.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Susan Kaye

      Oceania!?!

      SCENE: Goodwill distribution center

      SUE: HEY! OCHE, I found A Nine West blazer in this bin of old MacDonald’s toys. Come look.”

      LAURA: Hey, I think that will go with my brown high top Nordstrom’s Rack boots. Hey, is that a Prada knock-off clutch over there with the Harlequin paperbacks?”

      END SCENE

      Laura, you can pull off a lot, but NO, can’t see Oceania AT ALL.

      Like

      Reply
    2. Robin Helm Post author

      Our sister’s name is Laura Layne. I like it.

      You escaped ridicule when they named you Laura instead of Oceania. 😉

      Like

      Reply
      1. Laura Hile

        Oh, you know I escaped big time. But it says a lot about my dad’s love for sailing and the sea.

        On the other hand I’d be like Oprah, with a unique name. Ochie (mispronounced Ouchie?), with most people not knowing that the ch makes the sh sound … until I became famous enough to be a household name. And following Oprah’s lead with Harpo, my publishing company would be Eihco (rhymes with Geico).

        Like

        Reply
  5. Sophia Rose

    I like my name, but I got teased and called Sofa all the time. My mom told me that it didn’t matter what the name was. If people want to tease; they will tease. I’ll be humming that Johnny Cash song now. LOL

    Like

    Reply
    1. Robin Helm Post author

      Sofa. Kids can be cruel, as I well know. I was called Robin Redbreast, Rockin’ Robin, and Robin Flatbreast (very cruel). The constant question was, “Hey, Robin. Where’s Batman?” Such wit.

      Like

      Reply

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s