What’s in a Name?

I’m a big fan of A Song of Ice and Fire. (That’s the book series for Game of Thrones for all you non-reading-HBO-show-watching-only types.) I like the attention given to names in the books. Stark, the ruling noble family of the cold and harsh north, has an appropriate name. They live in stark contrast to the opulence of the other great houses; the landscape of the north they watch over can aptly be described as stark as well. I especially like the surnames given to the bastard-born within the story; names like Snow (from the cold north), Sand (from the dunes of the south), Flowers (from the fertile reach) and so on.

This flavoring concept within the books connects the series with our own world. After all, many of our surnames today are derived from our homelands or station in life. The name Smith may very well be derived from past ancestors who were blacksmiths. (Given the prevalence of the name I’m guessing blacksmiths were quite the players back in the day.) Fletcher could result from an ancestor who crafted arrows. Even geographical references could be used as well; I once knew a man whose last name was Whitechapel. (He insists his family moved across the pond more than thirty years before Jack the Ripper, though.) It’s interesting to ponder where some of our names come from; although I’m hesitant to think about anyone with the name Dickinson.

Sometimes it’s the first name that causes me to wonder. Wilson is a common last name (even a first name, for that matter) but who came up with the name for my all-time favorite NY Met, Mookie? That’s got to be a rather unfortunate name to grow up with. Still it’s only the second silliest name in sports; how can I not mention the difficult first-name-last-name combination Dick Trickle? That’s not a name. That’s a question on a Urologist’s paperwork:

Would you say your symptoms resemble: A) Dick Trickle or B) Peter Dinklage?

Hey, I had to make a reference to Peter Dinklage after starting off with Game of Thrones. But there’s another actor whose name I often wonder about. Tucker Smallwood played Commodore Ross on Space: Above and Beyond, and I do hope he didn’t inherit the very genes which led to his ancestors obtaining that moniker.

But people aren’t the only ones with unfortunate names. I’ve worked in retail for quite some time and have seen products with names that make me say, “Huh?” For example, Hooper’s Tipsy Pig is a sauce we sell at my current employer. I can’t help but think of Sesame Street: visions of Mr. Hooper slipping a mickey in Miss Piggy’s drink in order to put the moves on. Eeew! I believe the same company makes Bone Suckin’ Sauce. (I know what I’m getting for my wife this Christmas!) We also have some kind of food product under the brand name Pukka. If an Italian named that product I’m avoiding it. (“It was-a so bad it made me Pukka my guts out.”) And I wish I had seen the late-night commercial a former employer saw which focused on a fishing knife called the Wonder Boner!

People and people products aren’t the only items on the strange name list, either. I remember walking down the pet aisle at my old grocery store and seeing a cat toy called Bizzy Ballz. Three feet away, in the dog section, was Bizzy Bone! One would assume if you had Bizzy Ballz, you’d have a Bizzy Bone, too. (I should know, I have four kids!)

Sometimes the name is just fine, but the abbreviation makes you do a double take. One of our employees packaged multiple flavors of crackers into one box to save space; thereby condensing four boxes into one box of assorted crackers. But he labelled it “ass crackers.” Oh, how badly I wanted to write “cracker” above it! The milk we get in is homogenized, and it comes in gallons. Hence the abbreviation HOMO GAL. Not to mention 2% HOMO GAL. Sounds like Ellen Degeneres and Anne Heche, respectively.

Of course, sometimes these names can be intentional. I saw a dating-service video of a girl whose name was pronounced Shi-theed; spelled Shithead. I guess she was named after her father. Also, I was pretty good at naming our first daughter’s toys but eventually got tired of the responsibility of ALWAYS having to do so. When she got her unicorn toy I suggested the name Horny. I was relieved of toy-naming duties for one year. Then, when called upon once more to name a pink elephant, I had to use the same get-out-of-this-job tactic. “Let’s see,” I said. “The only elephant I know of is Dumbo. This one’s pink and must be a girl. How about Bimbo?” Mission accomplished!

That’s enough fun for one blog. Let me shift gears to a more serious topic. I’d appreciate it if you all prayed for my wife. Because, unlike those of you who can come here, read, and leave – she’s stuck with my mind on a daily basis for the rest of her life. (Don’t worry, honey, I’ll have the permanent disclaimer up soon.)

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2 Comments

    • Yeah, I had the same situation at my last job. I didn’t write an entire entry on account of my wife reading it. The woman’s last name was Cumpit. That’s an unfortunate name for a girl. Imagine how hard middle school must’ve been. “Is that chick easy?” “Oh, she’s a right old Cumpit.” Of course it might be worse if that’s her married name and her husband had to have that name growing up. Wait, if that is her married name, what the heck was her maiden name? “Hi, Mom, Dad. I’d like you to meet my fiancee, Mary Hobag!”

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