As I was driving home tonight, I found myself staring at a large neon sign next to a church. It said "Korean Presbyterian Church, Pastor – He Moon You." I kid you not. I kept thinking every Sunday come on down for some sermons, prayers and He Moon You. And if you laugh, his son, He Soo You, will be coming after you. As I sat snorting to myself, I started thinking of all the other funny real names I have seen or heard.
Way back when I was in high school and preparing to enter a pre-med program in college (not by choice, my parents forced me into it), I interned at the New York City Morgue and the Chief Coroner’s name was Dr. Gross. This was a fitting name because he would eat pastrami sandwiches with one hand while pulling organs out of dead bodies with the other. I would always watch horrified at the idea that he might one day forget which hand he was eating with and which hand he was digging with. I was one of the interns in charge of bringing up those buckets of organs for analysis to the lab. I swear I couldn’t eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for years after this job because the organs were placed in the same buckets that KFC does their bucket of chicken in.
In elementary school, the award for perfect attendance went to a boy named Peter Pan who I had never seen before! And during summer camp, I used to make fun of a girl named Heidi Ho, not because of her name but because she was a little sniveling tattletale. So I would walk behind her and sing the seven dwarves theme “Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go.” At my last job, a previous board member was named Paige Turner. But she turned out to be a real bore. There was the Chinese guy named Sam Jew who was actually a Christian. And in high school we had a counselor named Eileen Dover. We would always try to make her fall.
But the real fun comes in celebrities and their wacky names for their children. How would you like to go to school with magician Penn Jillette’s daughter Moxie Crimefighter? Or “My Name is Earl” star Jason Lee’s son Pilot Inspektor? Or my particular favorite, Jermaine Jackson’s son Jermajesty Jackson. Seriously, I can’t even keep a straight face on reading Jermajesty. Do you have to bow in his presence before speaking?
The NY Times had an interesting article last year about this phenomenon. Some therapists believe it is simple narcissism on behalf of the stars in naming their children exotic names. The child is merely an extension of themselves. An appendage. So name it exotically and garner more attention for yourself, at your child's expense. Others believe it is a vain attempt to keep their children special from the common people. Ahead of popular fashion. Explaining why some stars, like Harvey Keitel Cate Blanchett and Debra Messinger, have named their sons Roman, while others like Heath Ledger have picked old fashioned names like Matilda. Whichever excuse you believe, one thing is for sure, we are a lot more accepting of the bizarre naming rituals of our celebrities, but what about the common folk?
Earlier this month, Venezuela was trying to pass a law to ban stupid names. Apparently they have a real problem there with people trying to name their kids Superman and stuff like that. The point is to empower the registry to stop people from giving their kids names that would subject them to ridicule. Good idea or not? While some think it is in the best interests of the child not to be named Syphilis or Vagina (real names found in Social Security registry databases), is it the right of the government to stop a parent from naming their child Superman? After all, isn't it a parent's right to name their child anything they want? Even if it will scar their child for life?
Meanwhile, recently in New Zealand, a couple tried to name their kid 4Real but was stopped by the New Zealand registry. Pat and Sheena Wheaton were told that they couldn't register their son's name because it contained a digit. So they decided to name him Superman instead. But the proud daddy stated that their son would always remain “4Real.” He further stated that it had been hard to read all the abuse they have been subjected to on the internet for their decision but decided to discount it as it might all have been the ramblings of some ten year old schoolgirl. Ummmm, no. I don't think it's just ten year olds. I think the world is making fun of you, 4Real.