Last week, I was doing some research and came across the book “The Cornbread Gospels.” It was written by a fellow writer named Crescent Dragonwagon. When I saw the name, I did a double-take, then did what anyone else would do: Wonder if it’s the name she was given at birth.
I just had to find out. Given the name, it was pretty easy to find Ms. Dragonwagon’s blog, where she quite prudently includes a page with the explanation of her name. It is a funny story about two very young and clueless hippies choosing their “married name.” You really should read it by clicking here. Plus, it looks like she writes some interesting books.
Crescent’s tale reminded me of an essay from my 2009 book “Fairly Odd Mother: Musings of a Slightly Off Southern Mom.” It’s about parents who named their baby Talulah Does the Hula from Hawaii. It’s a cautionary tale that suggests maybe kids should choose their own names. But I wonder what Crescent would think of that idea ….
Hope you enjoy it my column below:
Moms heed this warning: Never, ever wait until you are in the throes of severe labor pains and the fog of heavy narcotics before choosing a baby name.
It’s during this time that moms have been known to become angry at someone: the doctor for not getting the baby out fast enough, the nurse who refused to let her drink water, the mother-in-law who keeps smiling and yammering about the joys of motherhood, her husband for getting her into the situation, her husband for smiling and yammering about the joys of motherhood, her husband because he didn’t gain 40 pounds, and, yes, perhaps even the tiny, innocent baby who, I must point out, did not ask to be there.
But the combination of narcotics and anger can be the only explanations for the name a New Zealand mom saddled her daughter with: Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii.
It’s a matter of court record. Would I lie to y’all?
A New Zealand judge, who was handling the case in which Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii’s parents split and were fighting for her custody, decided the parents had psychologically damaged the 9-year-old, who told classmates her name was “K” to avoid teasing. The judge, expressing his displeasure over the rash of strange names for babies, made Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii (I just like the sound of it) a ward of the court so she could change her name.
Maybe Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii (last time, I promise) will become “Ann” or “Mary.”
Apparently, registrars in New Zealand can refuse to record some requested names, such as Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit.
Shame. I would’ve liked to meet Sex Fruit.
But names that got past the registrars include Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay and Violence.
Let’s see: “Number 16 Bus Shelter?” This child’s parents likely were celebrating the site of conception, which gives us a good reason to avoid public transportation when visiting New Zealand.
“Midnight Chardonnay?” Only two occupations await her: stripper-slash-porn star or soap opera actress. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s good to have choices.
“Violence?” Clearly, these parents are hoping for a rapper who makes enough coin that they can trade their hoopty ride for a tricked-out Benz wagon.
But if the judge thinks this trend is occurring only in New Zealand, he hasn’t been watching Entertainment Tonight.
Everyone thought Michael Jackson nicknaming his child Blanket was a sign of the same mind-eating illness that turned his skin white and caused his nose to fall off but in reality, he was a trendsetter. It wasn’t long before actor Jason Lee named his son Pilot Inspecktor, magician Penn Jillette named his daughter Moxie Crimefighter, reality star Rooster McConaughey (brother of Matthew) named his son Miller Lyte and actor Rob Morrow named his son Tu (read the names together.)
Obviously, celebrities have a motive for their cruelty: A few mentions in the press and another two minutes of fame at the expense of their kids’ well-being and their ability to attract mates later in life.
Earlier this month, a dad in Orlando, Fla., offered the right to name his unborn son to DJs at a local radio station who were offering a $100 gas card to the listener who came up with the most interesting item to trade. Radio hosts Richard Dixon and J. Willoughby took David Partin up on his offer and named the boy, due this winter, “Dixon And Willoughby Partin.”
While free gas almost qualifies as a legitimate reason to give your baby a name that will scar him for life, I see this trend as child abuse. Babies ought to be assigned letters or numbers until they are old enough to choose their own names, say around age 4.
Then, we’d see kids named Spider-Man Smith, Barbie’s Dream House Johnson, Puddin’ Pop Wilson or Wii’s Guitar Hero Hudson, but at least they made the choice.
Or, we could wait until the age of 14 and let parents decide. That way we’d have something to hang over their heads during those teen years when they’re going to hate us anyway.
As the mom of a teenage daughter, I can think of a few examples for girls: Chastity Belt, Pretty Prude, or Touch Me And You Die. Or threaten to name a son Dirty Underwear Harry.
Hey, it’s only fair. He’s the one who insisted on embarrassing you by wearing his pants around his knees, piercing his tongue and dating someone named Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii (oops. That one slipped out).
On the plus side, he might actually wear clean underwear, just to spite you.