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What's in a Name?

Would a rose by any other name actually smell as sweet? I can mention a dozen substitutions that may blow that theory straight to… I’m trying to think of a name with the same oomph… but just like rose, hell is the only word that works. For example, what if the White House Rose Garden were called the B.S. Garden instead? Would it pass the sniff test? Okay, maybe that's not a good example. Let me try again. It's Valentines Day and you give your sweetheart a beautiful aromatic bouqet of maget vomit. Yup. That definitely makes my point.

So what is it that makes parents name their kids truly awful names? They’ve done it since the beginning of time and the practice has never been more popular. There are at least three Dodo’s mentioned in the Bible. (Actually it’s pronounced do-do, which doesn’t-doesn’t make a heck of lot of difference.) Here’s another one from the Bible that will Amaziah. Get it? Then there is Maher-shahal-has-baz which means, “hurry to spoil” and I don’t think that’s referring to his doting parents. One guy in the same book named his kids Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash. Yikes! I can just hear their mom calling them to dinner. UzHulGether and Maa-aash, youze all come getyer yer haa-aash!

Those names aren’t a whole lot worse than some of the currently named doomed-for-life kids. How about these actual beauts: Ben Dover, Abela Lincola, Abcde, Moxie Crimefighter or Saad Maan? And who could resist Crystal Methany (resist it), Petal Blossom Rainbow (so sweet), or Twilight Sparkle? (That's one you can really sink your teeth into.) And the names Phat and Sha’Tonka certainly carry a lot of weight. I do kinda like Tehra Dactyl. I mean, if your last name is Dactyl, how could you possibly object?

My grandson had a classmate in Georgia whose name was Le-a. Her mother would get angry when the teachers would mispronounce her name Lea and who could blame her? “It’s LeDASHa, for heaven sakes, get it right!” Really? Haven't they ever heard of the Kar-ians? Oh wait. When my son was in school he knew twins by the name of Orangio and Lemongio. I'm not making this up. A little too citrus for my taste, but to each his own.

The concept of unusual names isn’t that cool for children, but it’s really great for pets. I mean, don’t you get sick of ordinary, unimaginative pet names? What are the first pet names that jump into your head? Buddy, Max, Bailey, Sport, King, Buster, (yawn) Maggie, Fluffy, Charley, Coco, Smoky or Ginger? Boring.

Once we had a dog we named Sandy. (I know, another dog cliché.) It didn’t hit me how trite her name was until I was visiting in my living room with a friend by the name of Sandie. At one point in the conversation I wrinkled my nose and sniffed the air. “Oh, Sandy, you stink!” I exclaimed. Sandie’s face visibly crumbled and it didn’t matter how much I tap danced, I couldn’t undo her discomfort. A few weeks later she called to tell me she had a new puppy. “What’s his name?” I innocently asked. “Gail” she replied.

We had a new neighbor move in next door and his name just happened to be Bruce—the same name as my three-year-old cat. Every night I call him inside. Bruuc-ie! Now, that could get a little awkward. My son and his wife were batting around names for their soon-to-be-born baby boy. Their four-year-old listened intently and then threw out an idea. “Have you ever heard of the name John?” Back to those ol' tried and true Bible names.

So what’s in a name? I’d say a lot. It’s probably safe to bet that Sandy doesn’t smell as sweet as a rose. But maybe if it were called Gail?