I write a column about trying to talk one of my former ballplayers out of saddling her soon-to-arrive child with a weird name (July 31), and all of a sudden, I run across three articles on similar topics. It's an epidemic out there, and it's not limited to one group of people.
That, of course, won't stop all of the guilty white liberals from writing in to call me a racist. Well, your mama's a racist. Or, in the case of Barack Obama, it's your grandma.
The question I raised with the young woman in last week's column was, "If you knew that giving your kid an (out-of-the-ordinary) name would hurt him/her later in life, would you still do it?" It's a pretty simple question, really, but unfortunately, a whole lot of people get it wrong. It's pretty easy to convince oneself that "my kid will be the one that bucks the trend. His friends will think that his name (and, more importantly, his parents) are way cool. He'll thrive at school, get a good career and forever be grateful that I named him PeachBerry Wangdoodle."
In actuality, he'll take a whole lot of unnecessary ass-whuppins while he's growing up; he'll hate his name; and when he's 18, some faceless college-entrance person will reject his application out of fear that this kid's parents were obviously on crack when he was born, and some of it might still be in his system.
What really kills me are those who think it's OK to punish a newborn just because one of the biological parents happened to fit somewhere inside the ever-broadening definition of "celebrity" when the kid popped into the world. Maybe she was a bulimic skank on a cable-station "reality" show, or he was a member of a group that had a "hit" song that peaked at No. 24 on the dance charts. Doesn't matter; they're burdening that kid with a moniker that will keep him in mental-health facilities for life.
What's really funny (in a nonfunny way) is that people who are "celebrities" now think they're always going to be celebrities, and what they do will always be considered cool. Five years from now, you'll hear the parent's name and say, "Who?" Then you'll hear the kid's name and say, "Why?"
Magician Penn Jillette named his kid Moxie CrimeFighter. Teller won't be the only one giving that kid the silent treatment. Rapper (and now two-time convicted felon who's on his way to prison) T.I. slapped his kid with the name Messiah Ya'majesty. As in, "Pick up the soap, Ya'majesty."
Actress Shannyn Sossamon has a kid named Audio Science. I don't know who Shannyn Sossamon is now! What are the odds that anybody will know who she is in five years? But her poor kid will still be named Audio Science.
Maybe we could take a lesson from New Zealand, where they actually have a law that prevents "parents" from slapping a name on a kid that would "cause offense to a reasonable person." This came up recently when a judge made a 9-year-old girl a ward of the state so that she could change her name. Her parents (who both need to be thrashed repeatedly) had named her Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii.
The judge cited "very poor judgment" on the part of the parents and added, "It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily." Other stricken names cited in the judge's ruling include Yeah Detroit, Keenan Got Lucy, Fish and Chips, and (ahem) Sex Fruit.
Just to show that they're not total control freaks, New Zealand authorities did allow Violence and Number 16 Bus Shelter, the latter presumably being the point of conception of that poor child.
And finally, with the Olympics starting tomorrow (Aug. 8), there's a name you might hear in the track-and-field competition that will prompt you to say, "What the hell is wrong with people?!" It's that of 19-year-old American 400-meter hurdler Queen Quedith Earth Harrison.
She was given her name by her father, William Harrison, who claimed to be a big proponent of discipline. William has 23 children, a number that doesn't exactly shout "discipline," but, in his defense, more than a third of them are with Queen's mom. Queen has siblings named Empress, Muun, Graceful, Princess and (perhaps my all-time favorite) God Goldin Zig Zag Zig Allah.
William Harrison, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison for possessing and intending to distribute five pounds of marijuana and 22 pounds of cocaine, is linked to the Nation of Gods and Earths, a black-militant group that broke away from the Nation of Islam back in the 1960s, because the Nation of Islam wasn't militant enough. I don't know; I think killing Malcolm X is pretty militant.
Queen has only been hurdling for a couple of years and didn't start until she got to college. She's a long-shot to medal in these Olympics and probably will have a much better chance in London in 2012. Maybe by then, her brother can be on the Olympic boxing team. After all, he's Goldin (sic); he can zig, zag and zig; and being named God and Allah, he's probably had to use his fists many times in life.