Thursday, January 04, 2007

Names: The Ultimate Birthmarks

(Author's note: the idea of this was originally written and placed on my blog as "Hortence's Revenge", but I've changed it enough that it takes on a new life.)
I recently received an e-mail from a reader wondering if I was the same Grant Greene who attended school with her. My response to her was that, although I have always wondered what would possess someone to name a man-child "Grant", coupled with the fact I have met very few people who spell "Greene" with the "e" on the end, it's hard to believe that there is more than one Grant Greene out in the world – and some of my school teachers might be wishing that there wasn’t even one out there.

My first name, when employed by small children, is a disaster waiting to happen – but we’ll get to that in a moment. However, when you marry it up with the last name of “Greene”, it takes on a whole new dimension of bad choices. Take a moment and say “Grant” and “Greene” together with no pause in between. It’s the sound you would think a frog with indigestion would make, isn’t it?

My parents tell me they named me after a man they really respected - personally, I think my dad lost a bet of some sort. With a name like Grant, my adolescent years weren’t exactly easy. The cute girls would call me names such as "Granty", or they’d all get together (and I swear they had a choreographer help them with this) and dance this little jig as they chanted, "Grant, Grant, the big fat ant!" Some thirty years later, those chilling words still echo in my mind. Can you imagine what it was like live? I’m not even going to go into the things people did, and still do, with the extra (but silent) “e” at the end of my last name.

Looking to the dignity of generations to come, a government bureau should be put in charge of giving an OK on names. These offices should be located in convenience stores so while you wait, you can get a burrito and a slushie – wouldn’t the Motor Vehicle Department experience be better with that? The application paperwork would consist of the child’s name-to-be, the names of the parents (for obvious reasons), and an essay of 50 words or less about their choice of that particular name. Having quite a sense of humor and a very haunting laugh, a clerk reviews the paperwork and decides if the parents are allowed to give their child that name. For example, if the parents were trying to name their child "Hortence", they would need to include in their essay the fact she kicked a lot in the womb and the labor was 175 hours long – you know, justification. If approved, the clerk simply stamps OK on the application and the parents go on their merry way. However, here’s where the haunting laugh enters the picture (you know, the Vincent-Price-horror-movie laugh that makes the nipples on your chest quiver). If the name is found to be truly absurd or spelled in some needlessly exotic way, the clerk walks over to the parents, throws the application in their faces, and delivers “the laugh”. I suggest that people with pace makers and anxiety disorders have their spouses do the filing.

I have to admit it would be tempting to play with the names of your children. In my younger days, I always thought it would be cool to name my first son "Gang", and if I had a girl, "Salad." It would be interesting to see if "The Bureau" would pass them, but I don’t think my nipples could take it. E-mail me your unfortunate naming stories at


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Anonymous said...

"makes the nipples on your chest quiver" - exactly which other nipples might you have been referring to?