Monday, February 7, 2011

You name it.

"That's two z's and two e's, ma'am."

Okay. So if you work in a hospital, suffice it to say that you meet some pretty interesting people. And work there long enough and most certainly you'll run across some interesting names belonging to some of these interesting people.


While some are urban legend like the alleged mother who named her twins "O-ran-jello" and "Le-Mon-jello" because of what she received on her tray, there are absolutely some names that I can sho' nuff attest to as the truth. Some, like "Candida" (pronounced Can-deeed-a) or "Klamydia"(pronounced phonetically) were assigned by well meaning parents who simply didn't have the medical background to know that the name was synonymous with the kind of infection that could eventually land the young woman of the same name in stirrups. But then, there are the others. The ones that you can only shake your head at and say, "Why Lawd?" Like, when I was a resident, this sixteen year old girl who I met in the nursery who named her triplets "Hennessey", "Courvoisier", and "Remy."  (I will never forget the child saying, "Courvoisier sound so distinguished, don't it?") Ummm, yeah.


While I'm the first to admit that some of the most. . .uhh. . creative. . .names I've seen have belonged to--yes, I can admit it--my own people, I can definitely say that I have seen my fair share of doozies assigned to folks of other races.  One of my all time favorites is the little boy whose parents let his three year old sibling name him "Mister Cowboy." Another winner was the teen couple who named their twin boys "Buddy" and "Partner."  Ummm, yeah.  Then there's these crazy Hollywood names that have gone viral like "Apple" and "Zuma."  So. . . I can definitely say the . . .uhhh. . .creative. . .name thing crosses race and cultural lines.


In the spirit of Black History Month, and as a person who has worked in hospitals for close to twenty years, I will admit what you all know is true: That my people take the name game to a whole 'nother level.


Before you go a-judging or tsk-tsk-tsking, let me just point out a few things.  While surely it might hinder one's potential to be the President of the whole United States with a distinguished name like "Courvoisier Alize Cole", history has definitely shown us that some of the biggest whoppers dished to my people have been overcome.

Such as.

Condoleezza. Two e's? Two z's? Really?  Oprah.  Yes, you bible readers--Mr. Winfrey meant to name her "Or-pah""-- as in, that chick who ditched Naomi after two quick hugs, leaving good ol' Ruth to pick up chafe and support mama-in-law all by her self. The legend is that her birth certificate actually says "Orpah"--but since everyone kept butchering its pronunciation, it became simply "Oprah." (It looks like it kind of worked out for her.)

But, I digress.

The whole  . . . .uhhh. . .creative. . .name thing has been going on for a long time, too.  Like, I'm sure that "Crispus" Attucks mother was savvy and well-meaning,  just like "Booker Taliaferro Washington's" mama was.  See?  It didn't start with Condie or Oprah.

Nor did it end there.

I bring you, exhibit A:  The Draper Brothers.

Yes, my friends. These afro-wearing, crocheted-hat donning, fly collar-rocking dudes happen to be my father and his brothers.  Seven dapper dudes, if I do say so myself--and seven dudes belonging to a family of . . . uhhh. . .creative. . .names. 

These are their sho' nuff God and Mama/Daddy given names. Birth certificates to prove it.

(Back row, l to r)  Dad--William Ralph Draper a.k.a. "Tony."  (Why "Tony?" Who knows. . .), Hiawatha Draper a.k.a. "Skeeter", Edsel Ford Draper a.k.a. "Chief" or "Wolf-man", Ponce de Leon Draper (who needs a nick name with a winner like that?) 

(Front row, l to r)  Donald Draper (blanking on middle name) a.k.a. "Boot", Woodrow Wilson Draper a.k.a. "Woody", and Bernard Jerome a.k.a. "Buh-nard" (since his Dad wanted him named Bernard) or just "Jerome" (since his Mom wanted him named Jerome.) 

Seeing as Jerome was the youngest, we all believe that this is the only reason he escaped being named after a historical figure or renamed as something having little to do with whatever that name was. Woodrow Wilson wasn't so lucky.

What can I say? We're a creative people! (Besides, what else would explain the song that got Cee-Lo Green the Lady Killer nominated for a Grammy this year?) Now, I'm not saying that I believe in full on carte blanche when  it comes to naming children, but what I do know for sure is that a lot of the folks attached to such names manage to do okay. . . . .as well as those related to them. Clearly this is the case considering how normal I turned out!  (Ha.)

Happy Black History Month!


  1. The most misguided name I've ever come across is "La-a"


    wait for it...


    as my granny would say "mm mm mm...bless her heart"

  2. Hey, I say whatever floats your boats. I am all about a name meaning something as in it was chosen with some type of "thought" behind it. That said, DH and his colleagues have had the pleasure of treating a family that consisted of a Le-ah [pronounced Le dash ah], Cash, Cash Money, and Cash Money Millionaire. Whatever floats your boat.

  3. And if it's not a creative name then you can always try creatively spelling a name like say, Tamika. aka Tymika, T'mika, Tahmika, Tmyka, Tam'ka, you catch my drift? My family has boring names, I say go for a little spice if you want to!

  4. I found your blog from Six Year Med. This post made me laugh. out loud. I think my favorite is ponce de leon. :) I'm an FP doc working over in Greenwood, SC (just over an hour northeast of Augusta). I've had some good names from some of my patients. One of the babies I delivered during residency was named "Leviticus" which was kind of cool when she told me (Levi would be a cute nickname), but then I found out she spelled it "Lavitikus" which just isn't the same. The Lemon-jello story gets told at our hospital, too. I like the names where there are more than one apostrophe. (X'Zay'Vion) for a real example.

    And I've heard of LOTS of Neveah's lately (as in Heaven spelled backward). Another one I don't really get.

    I've been reading back through the archives and really enjoying the blog!! Thanks!

  5. Thanks, Aubrey! Welcome!

    Two La-dash-a's between two commenters? Hmmmm. . . .do I detect another urban legend? :)

    Don't y'all just LOVE that I live in Atlanta and I have an uncle who was named PONCE DE LEON???? Awe.Some.

  6. I had to have my husband read this post before I put up my comment. ;)

    Funny names or not, and despite the fact that the Draper gentlemen are senior citizens now, I still want to say they were HOT back in their day. If they were not one generation early, I would have a major crush on your uncle Woody (he looks a lot like my husband actually, minus the huge hair. :)

    We have some creative names in both of our families, but it's the nicknames that really take the cake.

  7. Yeah,Anush. . . Uncle Woody was a 'G' in his hey-day. But Uncle Skeeter? The ultimate 'G', fo' sho. (You have to be a 'G' to rock a crocheted fedora!)

  8. Ha! It could be an urban legend too. But this family was for reals. The mother was irate because the receptionist was calling for Leah instead of Le-dash-ah. And my husband's co- resident has had the pleasure of treating both Cash and Cash Money on more than one occasion.

  9. I absolutely LOVE your blog. Found it through Excellent writing and humor, which is clearly shown in this post. Keep up the good work!

  10. How bizarre!!!! Tuesday at my doctors apt a lady brought her son in...... Florian Lux. She announced proudly it meant flourishing light. There are no words........(((((eyeroll)))))

  11. John's favorite from intern year was Sha'dynasty. It would be a tragedy to forget the apostrophe.. :)

  12. Sha'dynasty? Awwww dayummmm! I didn't know they could pull off such a winner in South Cack-a-lacky! Whoa!


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