WHAT’S IN A NAME? A FREAKIN' LOT
I’m finishing up revisions on the third Maggie Ryan book (which I’d hoped to get done before I leave for Chicago today, but won’t), and next up I’ve got to start on the fourth Debutante Dropout Mystery, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB, due January 1. I know, I know, cutting it close, but I boxed myself into the same corner with the last two books and it turned out fine. So I’m hoping my luck will hold this time around, too.
My brain’s already mulling over my story idea, what kind of things I’ll want to have happen in the plot, what types of characters I’ll need. Which got me to thinking about names. Every character’s gotta have one, just like a baby or a new puppy. And it’s got to be just the right one, so suited to each particular person that I can’t imagine calling him or her anything else.
I know writers who buy the latest baby name books to thumb through and settle on the perfect monikers for their characters. Maybe I’m loony, but the names for the people in my books come from somewhere deep inside my brain, a place too frightening to actually visit. Somehow, these folks just emerge, and I know who they are and what to call them. It’s not anything I can explain, but it’s always worked for me.
So far in my life, I haven’t had the opportunity to name real children, just made-up ones. But, like every other woman on the planet, I have favorite names stuck in my brain, and I hope I have the chance to use them in the future. I know my friends who are parents put a lot of thought into coming up with the perfect names for their babies. Sometimes, they come up with the same name (my buddies Laura Durham and Emily McCaskill both dubbed their now-infant daughters “Emma,” which is very pretty). Other times, a slightly more, er, unique name pops up. My cousin Chris and his wife Colleen named their first son “Finn,” which I thought was funny because Chris’s mom (my aunt Linda) has a beloved cat named Huckleberry. I figured it was an ode to Mark Twain.
The woman who painted the front door of my condo yesterday introduced herself as “Mo,” telling me her full name was Mona Lisa Leonard. Interesting that she would choose to make her living with a paintbrush, eh?
Though, when it comes to names, no one can top celebrities at conjuring up the most unusual choices. Let’s start with the most recent Hollywood baby-naming insanity.
Jerry Seinfeld and his wife Jessica have smacked the name “Shepherd” on their kid. I heard someone on The Today Show say that, in Hebrew, “Shepherd” meant “Yes, please, I’d love a wedgie.” I believe it.
Michelle Branch and her husband named their daughter “Owen,” which I assume is a tribute to Owen Wilson, seeing as how “The Party Crashers” was such a big summer hit.
Liv Tyler and hubby have a son named Milo. I’ve been trying to figure out how many words rhyme with that, because the poor kid’s gonna have to deal with it on the playground.
How about Rob Morrow’s child: Tu Morrow. I’m already envisioning her playing the lead in a Broadway production of Annie. (For the record, if I never hear anyone sing "Tomorrow" again, I will be immensely grateful.)
The Naked Chef Jamie Oliver and his wife must’ve been heavily into the cooking sherry when they stuck a daughter with “Daisy Boo.” Their other child, “Poppy Honey,” was likely inspired by a salad dressing.
Does anyone know who Shannyn Sossaman is? She’s supposedly an actress, but I have a feeling she’s gotten more press from the announcement that she’d named her baby “Audio Science.” My bet was on “Compact Disc,” so I lost about fifty bucks on that one.
Of course, there’s always Apple Martin, daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. I heard they really wanted to call her “Apple Martini,” but they were just one letter shy. Dang it. I hate when that happens. A good alternative would’ve been “Doc Martin,” but did they listen to me? Nooooo.
Going back a bit, we have a lovely trio of names chosen by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis: Rumer Glenn, Scout Larue and Tallulah Belle. It would be practical if bars put up a sign that said, “Please, don’t drink and name babies.” It might stop this kind of thing.
Bob Geldof of “Live Eight” and “Live Aid” fame surely couldn’t have been in his right mind when he and wife Paula Yates came up with these doozies: Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie. Why am I picturing these children on “America's Most Wanted" in a few years, when the cops are trying to hunt them down for pulling a Menendez? I do hope they're already in therapy.
Still, the prize for oddest names has to go to the Zappas…or the Phoenix family. Can't make up my mind. You decide:
Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva Muffin Zappa
River, Rainbow, Leaf, Liberty and Summer Phoenix.
I know. It’s a tough choice. Maybe they'll have to split the trophy.
Honestly, I think George Foreman had it right. Just name every kid “George,” and you’ll never forget who you’re talking to. Though I’d sure like to be at Thanksgiving dinner sometime and hear that table-talk. Do they all answer at once when Mrs. Foreman says, "Yo, George!"
I just can’t wait to see what Tom Cruise and paid-to-order-bride Katie Holmes decide to name their adopted child. My money’s on “Christian Science,” although Shannyn Sossaman might already have that copyrighted, since I'll bet little Audio Science is asking for a brother.