Saturday, June 15, 2013

Naming Rights and Wrongs

The city of Tacoma, Washington, is famous for a lot of things.

There’s ….uh, but of course there’s also….hmmm, wait a minute.

Now I remember. Tacoma, (a Native American phrase meaning “that other city in Washington”), is the birthplace of Father’s Day, an occasion, as one child observed, “that’s just like Mother’s Day only you don’t spend as much.”

Thanks to a nice lady named Sonora Smart Dodd, who conceived the idea in 1910, we dads can spend a long afternoon today slaving over a hot barbecue to feed family and friends.

As for me, I’m a bit puzzled why Ms. Dodd spent a lot of time and effort to honor a man who participated in naming her Sonora. I may be a little sensitive to this since I’m a guy known to most folks as Bob, a name that conjurers up visions of the manager of a lube and oil change joint.

But it underscores an important fact. The number one responsibility of parents is to give your child a proper name.

A lot of people fumble the ball here. Consider the cases of Merle Lester, Tyrannosaurus Rex Mullens, Tokyo Sexwhale, Deja Viau, Jed I. Knight, Hans Ohff and Genuine Ho, all actual names given to kids who are spending their lives trying to overcome it.

Some succeed. Mr. Sexwhale, for example, is a minister in the government of or South Africa. Others don’t. Mr. Mullens is a convicted sex offender.

Other names aren’t just mistakes in judgment. They are a full-blown assault on one’s dignity. Brazilian footballer Creedence Clearwater Couto was named after a rock band. He’s lucky his parents didn’t follow Hootie and the Blowfish.

A kid in New Zealand had to carry the name Number 16 Bus Shelter around for life. Model Peaches Geldof’s full name is Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof. Her sisters are named Fifi Trixibelle and Little Pixie.

Some folks just want to make a statement. According the British newspaper The Sun, Michael Howard of Leeds had his name legally changed to Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist B*stards after being charged 20 pounds for a 10 pound overdraft. He closed his account and asked for a check with the balance to be made out in his new name.

Well played, Mr. B*stards.

Others want to commemorate a historic event. A woman in Kenya last year had twin boys who she named Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. For the record, Barack came out first.

Show Biz has stepped to the plate and made a major contribution to the field of weird handles.

Actor Jason Lee has a son named Pilot Inspektor while Sylvester Stallone hung the moniker Sage Moonblood on his boy. Bono of U2 fame has a child named Memphis Eve . Not to be outdone, U2 sideman Edge has a kid called Blue Angel. Jermaine Jackson contributes with his child Jermajestry.

All of this has resulted in the iron hand of government intervention in some corners of the world.

Several years ago, a New Zealand court ordered the parents of a young girl, "Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii," to legally change her name. Justice Robert Murfitt explained that unusual name "makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap," according to published accounts.

Not satisfied with that ruling, the government has banned the names Lucifer and Messiah, Mafia No Fear, 4Real and Queen Victoria.

Sweden also has a naming law and has nixed attempts to name children "Superman," "Metallica," and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116." That child's parents settled on the name "A" instead.

According to CNN, in Germany, rejected baby names depend on gender -- if you can't tell the gender of the child by the first name , it's a no go. Presumably, that means you can name your kid Adolf Hitler as long as he’s a boy.

As for me, I had wished I could have been named Wordsmith. But considering what might t have been, Robert works just fine. But you can call me Bob.

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