The Name Game
After being endlessly mocked for having a Yahoo email account, I finally caved and decided to get a professional sounding Gmail address. People kept asking my how Friendster was treating me or if my Prodigy browser ever gave me any trouble. But unlike most people who do some combination of their first and last name, I had limited options when it came to creating a new account. There are only so many permutations of Laura and Smith , and they had all been taken. I started to get extremely frustrated and began typing in anything my mind could conjure up. From lauranotlauren69 to LauraFascistSmith@gmail.com but to no avail, they were all taken. So I just added it to my list of grievances to send to my unimaginative parents.
Having one of the most common names in America has it own set of unique problems. Like getting someone else’s prescription and not realizing it till you’ve taken at least a week’s worth of meds. Or getting phone calls for gym memberships you never signed up for. I’d say the only silver lining is that it’s almost impossible to track me down on the internet since I’m just a needle in a Google haystack. I can rely on the fact that if me or my brother (Jon), ever witnessed a mob hit, we could easily transition into the witness protection program.
After griping to some friends and chalking it up as just another “white girl problem”, it made me realize I have it a lot better than other folks. Usually when you come across a crazy name it falls into two separate parties. One being, having hippie parents and two, those who are swayed by celebrity baby name trends or have any unhealthy obsession with designer labels. This how names like, Beanbag America, and Alexander Flamer III exist. I can now sleep at night knowing that the Flamer name will be carried on. It’s interesting how much your name can make a first impression on paper. Having a generic name, I always feel I have to sometimes be a little crazy just to overcompensate.
While passing down the family name used to be de rigueur, parents are now saying screw that and not naming their children Ethel, Maude or boys, Jocelyn. If you have a soft spot for graphs like myself and are borderline narcissistic, check out the Baby Name Wizard which tracks the popularity of names from 1880 to the present. You can see if your name is a long-running classic or just really popular due to Dynasty’s run on television.
Then there is a third party of people who have taken fate into their own hands and legally changed their names after they hit 18. Whether the years of merciless playground torture eventually got to them or they wanted something that suited them better, I admire those with the guts to say enough is enough. My friend told me about a group of siblings that changed their names to Counter, Laughter, and Jest. I can only imagine what your email sign-off would be with a name like that. Dear so and so, Best, Jest. At least they did it together and I hope that they all work in the entertainment industry one day. I guess the lesson I learned from this passionate discussion, was that whatever moniker you go by, you gotta own it. So from now on, I will be introducing myself as Laura ‘Motherfucking’ Smith and hope for the best.
Photo Courtesy of: Exponential Programs