A year or two back in casual conversation with my Dad, he informed me that given a choice, he would have called me Benedict.When I say given a choice, I should explain that this was not as a result of a naming power struggle with my mum, but more to do with the fact that I was adopted as a baby, therefore I came complete with a name already, therefore we were stuck with it. That’s not to say I don’t like my name I do, but it got me thinking about whether or not a name had any affect on a personality or or not and if I’d be any different or be perceived to be any different if i had a different name.For example If I’m introduced to someone else called Steve, I expect them to all to be a bit like me just as i expect all John’s to be like by Dad, all Gary’s to be like one of my previous colleagues and all Jeremy’s to be utter bastards
As I kid I really wanted to have a more macho name. I used to have this habit of waiting for the credits to roll at the end of tv programmes and films so that I could see the names of the stars, and see how macho the names sounded compared to mine and then wish id been called that instead. Then I’d swap my first name with theirs to see how it sounded and because much of what was on tv in those days was imported from America , some of the names were very macho indeed. so I’d find myself thinking how cool It would be if I’d been called Butch, Trent or even Burt Taphouse. Recently it occurred to me that irrespective of what your first name is, if your surname is ‘Savage’ you instantly have a man name.
At School my friends all had more exciting names, such as Dan,Andy,Rich or Si. but it took me ages to realise that all they had done was to remove all the unnecessary syllables and hey presto, instant grown up proper man names.At that point I started to go by the name of Steve. all of a sudden I felt more grown up and then along with everyone, else began to shorten everyone else’s name too. Even names that only had one syllable in the first place seemed to get the abbreviation treatment too: Ian became “E” and a mate called Joey had his name shortened first to Joe and then to ‘J’.
Some parents had been clever enough to name their children with names that either couldn’t be abbreviated such as Cy and others appeared to have just made the names up like Marius and Rutland. These guys were the eldest child and with the parents seemingly having exhausted their ingenuity with the first born, they simply gave the others more mundane ones. for example Marius had a twin called Brendan, and Rutlands brother is Alan. I was no different with my own 3 when they were born. Kai my eldest was a name I came across from a German thrash metal band who had a guitarist of the same name, and when people would be told his name, they all had the same reaction of ” oh…….erm….that’s nice’! Then after 17 years or so of getting used to it Wayne Rooney named his son the same , which was very much to his dissatisfaction. Jordan and Lillie had a much easier time of it!
An almost endless source of humour for me is coming across people who have either knowingly or otherwise found themselves at the wrong end of a comedy name. Some people end up with stupid names as a result of dimwitted parents. for example a guy I once worked with swore blind that he used to go to school with a boy called Dwayne Pipe! Another good friend once told me that a friend of his, who’s name is Richard Nurse had twin sons whom he christened Andrew and Peter. For months neither Richard nor his wife twigged that they had basically called these boys A nurse and P nurse. A lifetime of bullying now awaits these two kids.A quick search on the net reveals some names that if true are utterly spellbindingly splendid. A quick run through of these includes an Indian New York local government official by the name of Ram Amandeep. published poet and philosopher Justin Sider,former German footballer Stefan Kuntz and my all time favourite name ever, a man who thus far has rejected 3 friend requests on Facebook who goes by the name of Randy Bumgardner.
And then you get celebrities who fall over themselves to name their offspring with increasingly silly names.This isn’t a new phenomenon of course but seemingly more popular in recent years Courtesy of the Beckham’s, but even they would stop short of some of the following atrocities.’Pilot inspektor Reisgraf’ is the name given to the son of actor and general tool Jason Lee, Jermaine Jackson named his offspring ‘Jermajesty’ and one hit Wonder Toni Braxton named hers ‘Denim’ and ‘Diesel’ prompting her own publicist to explain this by saying ‘ Toni doesn’t care too much for children’ Charming! Penn from Penn and Teller, the American illusionist duo,named his children ‘Zoltan’ and ‘ Moxie Crime Fighter’ and although Frank Zappa decided not to call his daughter ‘Farts Tardier Meat Septic Prunk’ he did plump for the more acceptable ‘ Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen’. Mitt Romney the man who wants to have his finger on the nuclear button in the white house clearly saw it as a right of passage to hand down a crap name through the generations by calling his son ‘Tagg’ after Taggert in an apparent hope that he would become a spy and live by his own rules (?)
A name is far more than just a means for identification as it conjures up certain personality traits. So when these new and ridiculous names surface , I have nothing to reference them to and therefore can’t connect with them, meaning that far from giving their children a unique start to life by calling them a stupid name they’ve actually made it harder for other people to connect with them and unwittingly given other kids a great opportunity to call them names….for having stupid names.So Trent Taphouse and Benedict Taphouse will never be names I’ll want, I’m very happy being a good old Steve.Although Steve Savage would definitely be awesome.