My wife and I have four children and 11 grandchildren. Each has a personality so uniquely exclusive. Personalities are not the only thing unique. The names our children gave their grandchildren are quite unique also. In fact, some are so unique it has left me scratching my head because after I learn to pronounce the names, I still can’t spell it. It’s almost like being the dunce contestant on “Jeopardy.”
I must admit, I really wanted to name our daughter Christmas or Holly. One of our sons thought the name we gave him was bad enough, but what he doesn’t know is that I wanted to name him “Have-A-Nice”, but his mother shot that down just like a 40-foot-wide skeet.
My father passed away when I was just 14, but I remember so well him warning me that if I ever named a son after him, I would suffer a wrath worse than death. And, being a good, obedient and respectful son, some 15 years after his passing I, in fact, named my son after him (I thought since he was gone, I was safe). However, I did give my son an avenue of escape. We made my father’s first name my son’s middle name. As the years passed, my son exercised the option to go by a derivative of his first name. He is now proudly Chuck.
I never really cared for my first name either. In fact, when I began my career in broadcasting, I toyed with changing it to, well, almost anything else, and my mother burst into tears, reminding me that Herb was her father’s name. Well, he never went by Herb. They called him Herbie — name that regardless of how many times I introduced myself as Herb, many still called me Herbie. That only bothered me when I was young. Now, who cares? I dig it.
I have been in many parts of this country, have rubbed elbows with people in many different walks of life, and one similarity is that at some point between when it is discovered that baby is on the way and when a name is placed on a birth certificate, some people take a vacation away from good reasoning. We don’t always consider the pain and misery a name we believe to be cute, unique and clever may cause a child.
There is nothing new under the sun. When you go back through the names in the Bible, or down through the annals of history, the knee-jerk reaction is, hey, look at them. They called their kid Dorcas, or something you can’t pronounce. The difference is, those names had a symbolic meaning. The names we offer don’t necessarily. We just think they’re cute or funny. When we do that, we must keep in mind that these are the people who are going to decide what convalescent facility we are going to spend our waning days in, and what type of care, if any, we will receive. Think about it. I’m just sayin.’
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM, and can be reached at [email protected]