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What's in a Name?

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


I recently saw something on the Internet where a Chinese couple wanted to give their baby the name “at”, or to be more specific, the @ sign. If the baby grows up to be a rap star, the name of his or her rap album (this being China, it would probably be his, since female babies are seen as being the wrath of Satan and are disposed of as quickly as possible) would no doubt be, “Where It’s At,” or “Where It’s @!”

I’m all for giving children names that don’t suck, but weird names? Back when I was associate editor for the Huntington County TAB, one of my jobs was to pick up birth announcements from the hospital. Being a small town, we didn’t just list the parents. Oh no. We listed, parents, grandparents (both sides) great-grandparents (again, both sides) and any siblings. One morning, I picked up an announcement listing a new addition to the Dice Family. They decided to name their second son, “Rollen Em.” As Dave Barry would say, “I’m not making this up.” When my editor saw this, he asked that I call the hospital and tactfully ask if the information was correct. Since Tact is one of my many middle names (along with Bitch, Neurotic and Amazing Self-Deprecating Woman) I called and was informed, by a rather put-upon sounding nurse, that the birth announcement was indeed correct.

Which proves my point how screwed up things really are: you need a license to drive, hunt, get married and do many other things but to have and name your own kids? Nada. Nothing. Zip. In fact, if you reach a certain age and DON’T have kids, people think something’s wrong with you. But if you do have kids, yes, here in America, you can name your child Apple if you want. I can’t wait until the first “Microsoft Windows Vista Fisher” greets the world.

Getting back to names though, some reach a certain level of recognition to the point where they can’t ever really be used again. For example, take Elvis, Madonna, and Cher. I don’t think these names were too terribly common before these people got famous, but if there are obscure Elvises (Elvi?) Madonnas and Chers out there, you can probably guess which decade these people were born in. It’s the same with Oprah. An odd name to be sure, and was actually messed up on the birth certificate (it should have been Orpah, instead) but anybody from now on with this name, well, they’ve got a hell of a burden. Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if you named your daughter Oprah and she ended up a high school dropout, single mom and crack addict? I can just hear the poor mother now: “I didn’t name you Oprah for nothin’! Get out there and build a school for God’s sakes!” Or if you called your son Elvis: “Dammit boy, I said TAKE THE BARBITUATES! Here’s a fried peanut butter sandwich! You’ll eat it and LIKE IT!”

I’m not overly fond of my first name, but I’m sorta proud that I share it with an incredibly rich woman who started her own line of jeans (which I owned a few pairs of, naturally) as well as a journalist and probably the most famous feminist of our time. And there’s also Gloria Swanson. There are at least three pop songs featuring my name, and if I had a thousand dollars for every guy who met me and thought he was being clever by singing “Gloria” (the 1960s version, not the Laura Branigan one) well, I’d have a few thousand dollars more than I have now.

At least my parents didn’t decide to name me Buenos Diaz. That’s something you’d see as a title for a general interest/humor column. Or something.

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