What's In A Name?

"What's in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - Romeo and Juliet

I heard that quote for the first time circa 1976, in Mr. Carroll's English class.  I was humming "Smoke On The Water," and thinking about a date with the quarterback, when Mr. Carroll inquired:
"Miss Phillips, what does Juliet mean by this?"

"Got me, Mr. C., that Juliet was one intense chick."

Shakespeare was not my strong suit.

I have a better idea now, that Juliet was telling us a name does not define you.  But, had she hung around for a few more centuries, she might have thought differently.

I read a piece on the Global Post recently, that the New Zealand Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages is cracking down on parents who get too creative when naming their kids.

Names that are banned from the register include Lucifer, 89, and Adolph Hitler, names that one might generally reserve for incontinent pets and fruit flies.

Did the parents think this through?

"Lucifer, honey, now put down that pitchfork and come to dinner!"

"Mom, for the 666th time, I am busy!"


"89, I'm going to give you until the count of 3, I mean, to the count of 89, no, 88, and then I'm coming in!"

"But, Dad, I'm going number two!"

I did not come from a family known for its creativity when naming children.  Starting with my grandfather, and ending with my nephews, we have no less than five Johns, four Matthews and three Davids.

Not Catholic, just passionate Protestants.  And, apparently, dull ones at that.

Australia's Herald Sun reports that, down under, parents have requested and been denied permission to dub their children Duke, Mr., Messiah, Baron, General and Judge.

Sweden, too, has its visionaries.  A name denied there was Brfxxccxxmnlpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, somehow pronounced Albin.

Leaves me to wonder, wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Growing up "Jennifer," I had a unique name, at least until the 1970 movie "Love Story" hit the screen.  Much to my mother's dismay, "Jennifer" became the single most popular name for American girls, and remained so until 1984.

The website will give you some idea how common your name is in the United States.  It provides statistics on your first name, your last name, and the two of them together.

I am told there are 1,046 Jennifer Grahams.  I know one of them, a lovely woman from the Boston area that I met through the writing world.

Yes, she, too, is a writer.  A talented, talented writer, who would never use the word talented twice in one sentence.  We correspond regularly via e-mail.

Jennifer (the other one) says getting an e-mail from me is like having an out-of-body experience.  It's odd to see a letter in her box from Jennifer Graham

I agree that it is confusing, especially since I frequently e-mail myself with reminders for the week, things like, "dental appointment Thursday at 9 a.m."

I opened an e-mail this week, a notation to self, and was pleasantly surprised at my own wit and talent.  I was intelligent, funny, politically correct.  Pride suddenly transformed into depression, as I realized the narration was written by the other Jennifer Graham.

Then I clicked open my letter.

It said, "Check for chin hairs."

She's making me look really bad.  I may have to change my name.

To be or not to be Jennifer Graham, that is the question.


Kymberly Foster Seabolt said...

Perfectly written.

Once again I am now sad because I wish I'd written it myself.

Thanks friend!

jpgraham said...

As I recall, I started submitting my writing, after my brother INSISTED I have a subscription to The Farm and Dairy, because, and only because, I had a voice similar to some chick named Kymberly Foster Seabolt. It's your own fault, Missy! And besides, your blog is so much cooler.

Anonymous said...

It was a joy to read this blog entry. I have always found the idea of 'name' fascinating, and this only affirmed it. According to the website you mentioned, there are only 143 people in the U.S. named Robert Rhea. This made me feel kind of unique haha. Anyways, I enjoy your writing and I look forward to reading more. Check out my blog-

Christopher M. Hughes, MD said...

Wait a minute. Who was the quarterback then? ;-)

jpgraham said...

Dr. Critter, It's been so long, I really can't remember.