Monday, January 10, 2011

What's In a Name?

Last Friday was time for the regular medical check-up, which, truth to tell, has been extremely irregular in my case. I hate a visit to a doctor's office unless I'm bleeding profusely, or have internal organs hanging from huge holes in the central trunk, especially now that I'm at the age where "say Ahhh!" and "drop your pants and cough" is supplemented by "bend over and let me know when I've tickled your fancy" and the sound of a rubber glove being snapped into place. The same joke always follows this indignity, too: I guess this means we're engaged now? Snicker, chortle, guffaw.

You're a laugh riot, Doc. Don't quit your day job.

You'll be glad to know (like you care!) that I'm fine. I get the same advice I've gotten from doctors for the last 30 years: stop smoking, lose some weight, and get more fiber in your diet. Go exercise some. It's become a boring routine.

However, sometimes things sort of...happen...and the mundane often becomes a lot more interesting.

While I'm sitting around in the waiting room for my turn at the Spanish Inquisition, The Children came in.

The Children are a group of five young siblings, and their Mother. There are three boys, and a set of identical twin girls. They all appear rather healthy, and rambunctious, the first sign that the kids are armed with some lethal public-school-lavatory pathogen, if you ask me. You could hear them coming up the walk, through the front door, and those of us in the quiet waiting room were assaulted by a wall of noise the nanosecond they entered the room.

These little girls were something, though. Dressed in matching outfits, great big smiles. The boys were of the rough-and-tumble sort. The waiting room very quickly became an impromptu playground for them all, and no amount of admonition from their mother, or cross looks from the other patients waiting, was enough to slow them down. They were wrestling on the floor, chasing each other around, and just being kids. Personally, I think the girls were tougher and had more energy than the boys.

Really cute little rugrats, all.

The Mother was getting exasperated by her children's behavior. They were making a terrible racket, and she was repeating herself constantly: Don't DO that...Stop THAT...Calm DOWN...Watch your sister...She seemed really overwhelmed and frustrated, and you know how kids are: every "Knock it off" that isn't followed by the back of someone's hand is simply an invitation to more tomfoolery. But after a bit, it was starting to get positively annoying, and infinitely more dangerous as wrestling gave way to climbing on furniture and jumping off staircases, and throwing things across the room. Finally, Mom has had enough, and it was time to round this Flying Circus up, and this is where I finally lost it; because Mother had recited the list of ridiculous names she had given to her children.

I do not know what possesses people to do this to their children. I can understand how someone might find it "cute" or "unique" to name their children according to some personal motif, or theme, but there are some who either don't think this scheme through all the way, or simply get a really bad idea and run with it, no questions asked. This was one of those people. All of the children had been named according to a really bad common theme. I will change the names here, so that the kids may be spared even more embarrassment than they're already in store for, but you'll get the idea. Mom rises from her chair, and fairly yells:

"Diamonte, LeSabre, Camry! Cut that out, and sit your behinds down NOW! Don't you roll your eyes at me, boy! Shut it and park it!"

The Little Girls find the scolding their brothers have received to be quite funny, and they giggle and begin to tease them. Mom cuts this potential source of additional discord off at the pass.

"Chevelle and Chevette, stop that before I slap your behinds! Y'all need to learn to behave".

It was at that point that I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it. The children started giggling too, unaware of just what it was that I found so funny -- they just saw some dude guffawing and found it funny themselves -- I was, sadly, having fun at their expense. I'm such a louse. But sometimes, you just find your fun wherever it happens to be.

Mom stopped, turned, and bored two flaming holes right through me with her eyes. If she could have killed me with a thought, I think I would be pushing up daisies right about now. The rest of my wait to see the doctor was most uncomfortable, and it was all I could do not to giggle and titter myself. When I came back out into the waiting area after my examination, the entire brood was gone, although I could still hear the kids off in some other exam room.

I laughed all the way home, too, before I reflected on the fact that these children have a rather thoughtless parent who has cursed them with ridiculous names for reasons that I can only begin to guess at. It's got to be an interesting psychological/sociological question as to why parents do these kinds of things. I guess there's a desire to be original and unique within their circles, or perhaps, as a friend of mine once tried to explain, it's yet one more legacy of slavery; who wants to name their children Jack and Jill in emulation of The Former Slave Owners?

I don't know, but it makes me shake my head and wonder all the same. After I manage to stop giggling like a schoolgirl. Out of idle curiosity, if anyone can tell me why parents find it necessary to do this kind of stupid thing, would you please drop me a line?

Update: This post has garnered a couple of e-mails from irate readers who accuse me of the basest racism, and of making a cheap joke at the expense of African-Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth. The point of this screed was that there are parents out there naming children according to a screwed-up sense of personal taste, with no regard to the fact that some names, inavariably, come back to haunt their children as they grow up (seeing as how other children are often cruel).

In my own, Italian, family, a common theme runs through the naming of children, too. My family background is fairly lousy with Peters, Pauls, and Marys, andjust about every saint in the Catholic pantheon. I also know one white family that went absolutely apeshit in naming their children in a flowery motif (even the boys).

The children in question were all named with a "De" motif. If I remember correctly, the boy's names were DeCurtis, DeHoward and DeAntoine. This isn't so bad, even if it sounds tinny to my lilly-white ears. What made it so bad, and funny, was that the Mother was apparently so determined to carry this theme forward that she gave her daughters most unfortunate names.

The girls were named DeLicious and DeLuscious (I'm assuming these to be the proper spellings). Apparently, "Denise" and"Delilah", and so forth, didn't lend themselves to a stylized spelling or pronunciation. What made this funny to me, because my mind is permanently frozen in a 15-year-old state, is the thought soon followed "What would happen if these girls had an unfortunate surname attached to their terrible first names?"

How would you like to go through high-school with a name like "Delicious Cox", or "Delicious Cherry", and what do you think teenaged boys could make out of a girl with a porn-star-quality moniker like "DeLuscious Moorehead"?

Don't you think that's a terrible thing to do to your children?

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