I’m sure you’ve all come across that Humans of New York post by now, where the woman featured talks about being named Beyonce and all the teasing that comes with it, unleashing a flood of comments about people’s name-related sob stories. Because Facebook usernames mostly tend to be real names, it’s a treat to read comment after funny comment, knowing these poor people are speaking the truth.
At some point while reading the comments and chortling to myself, I wondered what the parents of the guy named Jim Socks or the woman named Holly Wood were thinking when they were naming their children. It’s hard to believe these parents were oblivious – these are not cultural references that they might have missed due to a generation gap. It’s more likely they just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make that really clever joke.
And then I started thinking… if I had the opportunity to make a clever joke out of my kid’s name, would I? I don’t know. I might just. Nothing that would get the kid laughed at or mercilessly teased, but an out-of-the-ordinary name is always a fun conversation starter, isn’t it? I’d like to think that no one judges anyone by their name, no matter the first impression, so there aren’t really what you might call “lasting consequences” to naming your child something funny. Of course, your child may be not be amused, but it’s not like you can ask for his/her opinion beforehand.
I have a perfectly ordinary name, and it wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I realised that the first four letters spell out a body part (and not one that you’d want to be part of your name) and that when I put my first and last names together, they spell out a very silly sentence. My parents didn’t knowingly name me something funny, but things worked out that way anyway. Why not actually go in with the intent of humour, right?
Our names are a big part of us and who we are. They’re literally the first thing people get to know about us, they tell people about us even before they see us or get to know us. Isn’t it amazing that something we carry with us all our lives, something that is such a big part of us, is not our choice to make? That, often, when people react to our names, they’re reacting to the choices and decisions that others have made for us?
Our names are a better reflection of our parents than they are of us. They’re the constant shadows of our parents, long after we’ve stopped being dependent on them. And in some ways, isn’t that a beautifully poetic concept?