What’s in a name? Maybe more than some parents realize

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6Goofing around on Facebook a while back (something I rarely do, goofing around, that is) I suggested a few possible alternate names for the new royal lass. My thoughts were revolving around the idea that this hyperprivileged newborn should be Christened with a nomenclature that departs from the conventional Royal monikers and maybe go a bit working-class in a spirit of inclusiveness and go for Brenda or Martha.

Or, how about soothing the Scots — who have been particularly obnoxious of late — and opt for ‘Heather’. My Facebook friend Kate suggested they should go with ‘Princess’ Leia. I mean, a bit of pop culture inclusivity. Why not? Personally I would opt for a particular folk heroine of mine who is as truly British as you can get, and that is Boudicca, after the dazzling queen of the Iceni in days of yore.

But she’ll probably stuck with some boring royal name. (NB she already has with a Catherine, Elizabeth and a predictable Diana thrown together, with Camilla having been rejected, obviously).

There is a particular problem with names, and that is that they are given to newborns by parents with the person impacted having no voice in the matter. And if the parents are trying to show how cool and hip they are, they will join innumerable other parents who are trying to be cool and hip and hence witness all the poor sonsabitches born in the 1960s who got stuck with ‘Dylan’, i mean thousands, maybe millions were so christened. Prior to Bob grabbing onto the name because he thought it sounded more poetic than Zimmerman, the only ‘Dylan’ a priori had been the Thomas one, you know, the Welsh drunkard and poet.

In that context I, for example, never liked my name when I was a child. I didn’t know any other ‘Ians’ so I thought it was a silly name and wide-open to mockery. “Ian-Ian; the big fat pee-on” and other bits of verbal revelry at my expense. Why couldn’t my parents have called me ‘Al’ or ‘Spike’? When I was in junior high I went to a school that boasted a lot of Italiano kids with names like ‘Carmine’ or ‘Mario’ or ‘Sal’. You know, street gang names. How cool would that be? But ‘Ian’?

I got a little more comfortable with my name to a degree when a kid moved down the street when I was in fourth grade and he was also name Ian. Nice kid and became a good friend. But, he was a member of a family that had recently immigrated from England. And, as was the vogue of the day with ‘limey’ kids (sorry, that was what we called them) he wore bloody short pants!english kids

I have gotten to know a few other Ians over the years and am more or less comfortable with the nomenclature, but it was also when I was in fourth grade insult was added to that name injury in that I had to wear glasses. That meant I was stuck with ‘four-eyes’ and ‘goggles’ at least until Buddy Holly came along and rendered specs kind of cool. Michael Caine as Harry Palmer (inspiring name, what?) cinched the deal. He was a cool and hip London bloke in the ’60s. Nothing much cooler than that, then.

Anyway, by the time I became an adult I got comfortable with, and even rather proud of my name. And as things go in life getting older is more challenging than fretting about what your parents called you.

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