Monday, August 25, 2008

The Kids are All Right (No Matter What You Name Them)

You know it’s a dull day in Gossipville when a celeb names his/her new baby something more original than Bobby or Mary and a blogger gets so upset you’d think the kid was his. The latest oddly-monikered celebuspawn is Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale’s new son Zuma Nesta Rock. Other recent kid names drawing heat are Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee’s son), Apple and Moses (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), Banjo (Rachel Griffiths), Sunday Rose (Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban), Alabama Gypsy Rose (Drea De Matteo and Shooter Jennings) and Kal-el (Nicolas Cage).

I recall getting a press release back in 1992 announcing the birth of a baby girl named Destiny Hope Cyrus to singer Billy Ray Cyrus and then-girlfriend-now-wife Leticia. My first thought was “She’s gonna hate you.” But the exceptionally amiable toddler was soon nicked “Smiley” which morphed into “Miley.” This year 15-year-old Miley officially left Destiny Hope behind by legally changing it to the more manageable Miley Raye Cyrus. Some of these kids are likely to make similar choices down the line.

Some of the most-derided names belong to famous kids who seem to have grown up OK, like Chastity Bono, Zowie Bowie (now known as Joe) and Frank Zappa’s kids Diva, Dweezil, Ahmet and Moon Unit. I don’t notice unusually-named kids making the news by going to jail or rehab more often than the ones with duller handles like Nick Hogan.

By the time these kids hit first grade they’ll be known by their nicks anyway and the only person at school who’ll be seeing their birth names will be some old broad in the records office who probably named her kids Sunshine, Rainbo and Che. Their classmates are more likely to be named Sunday, Suri and Shiloh than Susie or John.
Sometimes I wish I had a more unusual name after being one of six Lindas in my elementary school class, which also had five Cathys. Our teachers tried calling us Linda B., Linda C., etc., but even that didn’t work so well since the presence of a girl named Linda Gail Canterbury forced them to call us Linda Faye and Linda Gail. I’ll bet Zuma and Banjo won’t have that problem.

I’ve always liked Moon Zappa’s rejoinder to a classmate who asked her “Why did your parents name you Moon?” She countered, “Why did yours name you Cathy?

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