Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's in a Name? Part I

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
So says Juliet. But do you think that sometimes people reflect the nature of their name? I guess that's why the task of bestowing a name upon another living thing is so difficult. It has to fit. A good example of this: Could you imagine naming your sweet newborn baby boy "Brock?" It seems a bit much for a tiny baby.
But look at Brock Lesnar:


I mean, he just looks like a Brock, doesn't he? He completely grew into his name. I can't imagine him being called Joey or Bernard, can you? Would he have grown into a UFC Heavyweight champion if his name were Francis Dingle? Maybe. Maybe not.

I've talked before about the associations with my name, Heidi. As a little girl, in my little-girl way of thinking, I always considered Heidi to be a kid's name. I wondered what my name would be when I became older and finally got a grown up name. It must have been that Shirley Temple movie. Forever preserved in her cherubic, albeit black-and-white state, I couldn't imagine her "Heidi" as a grown-up wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase like the lady in the Enjoli commercials, who so exuberantly professed her ability to Bring Home the Bacon and Fry it Up in a Pan



Her name was probably Marcia or Shelley or something blonde and sexy like that.

But however age limited I saw my name to be, probably my biggest impression of it came from one of my favorite books - the Little Golden Book version of Heidi:


This version of Heidi, though predictably blonde, was always skipping around barefoot in fields of wildflowers, frolicking with goats, wind blowing her hair. 

And Happy.

I think that's the main reason I came to really like my name. Heidi is a happy name. Just as Brock is a strong name, Heidi is a happy name. 

Bestowing a name upon someone or something is fun, interesting, and tough. The hardest part about having my children (besides labor!) was deciding what to name them. Would I have a Brock or a Francis? What kind of person did I want them to be? Does a person's name help develop their character?
The challenge is to come up with something that is different without sounding odd; unique but not obscure. 


Like Maddox Jolie-Pitt. Is it the haircut? Or the constant swarm of paparazzi? Or the fact that he thought he hit the jackpot when his mother, Angelina Jolie, plucked him out of horrible poverty in Cambodia, only to then have to share her with Zahara, Shiloh, Pax, Vivienne and Knox? (Not to mention the adorable Mr. Pitt.) Or could it be his name? Maddox. Either way, this kid always looks pissed to me. 

Today I met a lady named Ione. I complemented her, and she thanked me with enthusiasm. She loved her name. I'd only ever heard it pronounced as eye-OH-nee, but she pronounced it eye-OWN. She said, "I don't loan, I don't borrow, I own." It sounded clever, and it was her way of owning (no pun intended) her name.

But where do the names come from? If you're named after a rock star are you then expected to be musical? Or a literary figure - if your name is Sawyer, are you adventurous? What about Darcy? In Jane Austen's novel, he is brooding, dark and handsome. But other than Miss Austen's hero, have you heard of any guys named Darcy?

Part II; What's in a name? Equine edition, next!

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intense debate