Names are kind of crazy things. The unfortunate thing about a name is that you don’t get to chose yours and are left at the mercy of two people as clueless as your parents. You are at an advantage when your parents pick one of those plain names, like Sarah or Rachel, a small one, but a certain advantage none the less. Because then there are parents who will name you just about anything, as long as it has a special meaning. Like Devash- honey. Okay, its okay to call your child honey, but its definitely not alright to call them Honey. You know what else is not alright- naming your kids after a food you like. For instance Cookie, or Muffin, or Corn Dog. Those names make me sad.
It’s safe to assume that children with names such as Sun, Moon and Imagination, if not the offspring of a famous and hot celebrity, will be smushed against lockers at school. And honestly even if you are Madonna, you're still kind of running a serious jeopardy by naming your kid Imagination. Like what if he’s just dull?
And then there’s my name. Mushka. Not the cutest of names, but then again I didn’t choose to be named after a Russian race horse. And past fifth grade its kind of lame to detest your name. Especially when half of the Crown Heights community shares it. Plus I love how people repeat my name tentatively, scared they’re going to say it wrong, like if they do, something bad will happen. It’s also horribly fun to have to spell out your name and say it real slow every time you want to put something on hold at Barneys. But I like it. It’s different-if you’re out of the tri-state area and black people can’t get enough of it.
Anyway, my point is lots of people’s names suck but still, it’s pretty cruel and fruitless to tease someone about their name because we all know they had no say in this decision and given input, surely, they’d have chosen differently.
I only have an issue with a few names. One I have a particularly hard time with is… Sam. As in the balding old man from the epic game of Guess Who? Or the lovable Dr. Suess creature who refused to eat green eggs and ham. At one time, those were the only Sams I’d ever heard of. Those were simpler days. Now when I call out Sam (note, the “a” is to be stressed and dragged when pronounced) on Kingston, a pack of too-cool-for-school, metro Crown Heights bochurs stop to think for a moment (because of course they were hardly named Sam but Shmuel) and then look up.
If you’re up for it, try walking over to a bunch of skinny jeans and asking for their name. Even if you’re really only talking to the one on the left, they’ll all chorus, “Sam” and just shrug like it’s the most natural thing ever. Even though you know they stood in front of the mirror that morning practicing their new name until it had the effect of someone who that name actually belonged to. If you really look out for it though, the fear of getting caught in the act is unmistakable. Like a 15 year old who stole someone’s ID to get into a bar. Apparently for them, it’s a risk worth taking. The only thing I have yet to discern is, why do they want their names to be Sam in the first place?
See my problem with the name Sam is not that it’s gross. It’s that its self elected and intended to sound sexy. It is anything but sexy. I will give you $100 if you show me one hot guy named Sam- besides Sam Ronson.
Another self-selected name: Sean. It always starts off as their “work name” -because apparently Shalom is just too hard to pronounce-- and they subtly work their way to having their friends call them that. And finally when they’re brave enough, they come straight out of the closet and introduce themselves as “…Sean”. You look at them kind of serious and go “Who named you Sean?…Is your Dad Kevin Federline?” They shift kind of awkward in their place and mumble something like, “I like it…” and shuffle away.
I don’t mean to appear acerbic or judgmental and really this is all just a little fun, but mostly my point is if you’re smart, stick to the name your Mama gave ya, because choosing your own name is just too enormous a responsibility, and really it’s the one thing your parents get the blame for. Stick with it.