Saturday, June 9, 2012

What's In A Name?

When your wife is a school teacher, you can amass an impressive list of rather unfortunate names. Just a few years ago, my wife taught a lovely young girl who was named after a very specific brand of liquor. Other children, while blessed with phonetically traditional names, are saddled with incorrect spellings (Lawrhen, Mykcoal, etc…) that make it excruciating to teach them to write their own names in lower grades.

While musing over these difficulties with a coworker, he revealed that he had once met a woman whose legal birth-name was Sexually. This poor girl’s parents had gazed upon their newborn and decided that she reminded them of an adverb that is usually followed by the word “transmitted.” Even just sticking to “Sexual” would have been a less emotionally devastating choice. Either way, this young woman is faced with either bearing the legal expense of changing her name or getting used to the question, “When did you know you wanted to be an escort?”

Of course, in all of these cases their given names were assigned to them without their consent officially making them the victim. But what happens when a consenting adult, of a relatively sound mind, decides to change their name from a reasonable moniker? There are two recent cases that exemplify this type of behavior.

The first involves 23-year old Nebraska resident Tyler Gold. Certainly there is nothing embarrassing about his name.  In fact, I could easily see such a name on packages of free-range antelope meat or on an illuminated sign positioned above a moderately-successful Ford dealership. Despite this, Tyler just felt his identity was missing a certain pizzazz. So, on May 7th of this year, he completed legal proceedings to change his name to Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Tyler "T-Rex" Gold
When asked about his unorthodox decision, Mr. Gold admitted that his new name was “cooler” than the one his parents had given him and “as an entrepreneur, name recognition is important and the new name is more recognizable.” The news report and court filling were frustratingly absent of the specific business T-Rex was in, but unless his career is Jurassic-era paleontology supplies it is possible that he has made a grievous error.

After all, just because a name is memorable does not necessary mean it inspires consumer confidence. I think we can all agree that no one is going to jump at the chance to acquire a set of Jeffrey Dahmer Tupperware or stop by the Jack Kevorkian walk-in clinic. Despite this, I suppose that there is always a chance that Mr. Rex will be featured on Forbes List once his chain of steakhouses goes public.

Wisconsin resident Jeffrey Drew Wilschke is also a businessman who felt his driver’s license needed some zing. So, while still on probation for a 2011 misdemeanor, he legally changed his name to Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop.  Shortly thereafter was re-arrested in a city park when several citizens became suspicious of his behavior. Once in custody he was found to be in possession of a gun, a knife, and a substantial amount of Jamaican finger-ash. It still unclear whether the name change was part of an overall strategy meant to keep him off the radar of law enforcement, but it takes a certain amount of self-assurance to file paperwork making “Doo-Doo” your go-to nick name.  
Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop
To be honest, I am somewhat disappointed that it took an observant citizen to bring in Mr. Bop-Bop, because if there is ever someone to keep a surveillance team on it is a repeat offender who only answers to a string of sound effects lifted from the 1960’s Batman TV series. I imagine he will regret his new name when he attempts to create a Twitter account or tries to find a personalized keychain at Alvin’s Island.

I have no problem with creative monikers, but at least put some thought into it. It needs to be something catchy like “Mopar” or “Jaundice” and if it takes more than two dashes keep it from going off the rails you may want to reconsider. Perhaps T-Rex & Doo-Doo will join forces and open a chain of fireworks stands in Arkansas. We can only hope.

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