Archive for January 18th, 2007

Taking Names

I didn’t think I could be surprised and/or amused by a strange name anymore. I thought I’d heard it all. Today, though, I encountered a young woman called “Kleshea.” Pronounced like (I kid you not), “cliche.” When I told Jif about this, it led us down memory lane, through a few of the unusual names we’ve heard in recent years.

Jif reminded me of an old favorite, a story told to me by my friend, Elaine, who is an obstetric nurse. She helped with the delivery of a wonderful baby girl, born to a very young, unmarried teen, who arrived at the hospital without friends or family. The new mom had not decided on a name for the baby before her birth. My friend knew this because during labor, to help pass the time, she had discussed baby names with the mom-to-be. After the baby girl was delivered, Elaine went in to check on mom and baby, and once again asked if the baby had a name. The young mother said, “I didn’t think of one, but the people in the nursery gave her one, and I like it, so I’m going to keep it.” My friend found that odd, but the girl seemed so pleased, she didn’t argue, just inquired as to what the nursery staff had named the baby. “They named her Famolly,” said the girl, holding up the baby’s tiny wrist with tiny ID bracelet. Elaine looked at the bracelet: Female Smith. Fe-ma-le.


A few years back, I was at a community service fair at a local high school, representing the counseling agency where I now work. A surly-looking student approached my booth, and she said, “I know where you work. My family got counseling there. We used to see Miss Theresa.”

I said, “What’s your name? I’ll tell Miss Theresa I saw you.” She told me her name. It was unfamiliar to me, and I wanted to check that I was hearing her correctly. “Serenna?” I asked. She repeated her name. “Saranna?” I tried again.

She was losing patience with me. “I GIVE UP!” she said emphatically.

For just a moment, I thought she was dismissing me as too dumb to get her name. But then I got it: “Surrender?”

“Yea. As in, ‘I give up.'”

Instinctively, I said to her, “No! Don’t give up!”

She smiled and said, “That’s just what Miss Theresa used to tell me.”


Jif belongs to a business networking group where one of the members is a restauranteur. He told Jif about a woman who came in and interviewed for a waitressing position. Her name was, or so it seemed, “Chataid” or “Shahtayd” or something like that. Unusual, but that wasn’t a problem. Until she wrote it down for the man: S-H-I-T-H-E-A-D. He said he didn’t hire her because he couldn’t put that on a nametag.


Then there was the one that has us both (and I think most of our church congregation) shaking our heads every time we remember it. Now you know I am not a prude, I am not particularly dignified (OK, that’s an understatement). But in church . . . well, I try not to use vulgarity in church. At least not when I’m speaking from the pulpit. A few years ago, our church was in high celebration mode because we had completed a wonderful, long-awaited addition to the building. The time came to have a ribbon-cutting, and to dedicate the new wing to the service of the Lord, and whatnot. It was a big deal in our little community, and a state delegate came to speak. He was not (nor will he ever be, now) a member of our church, but he was a local boy, made good, so we were delighted to have him. His name was, and is, James. He spoke about the importance of faith, and family . . . and he told some cute stories about his own family. And he told one that probably went over very well in other groups, but in our particularly setting, it went over like . . . like a fart in church.

He told how his young son, James III, refers to himself as “Jimmy, the Turd.” He waited for the laugh that didn’t come. Silence. Except for the sound of jaws dropping, eyebrows raising, and such. Although, I must say after a few seconds of silence, I was stifling some serious laughter, not at “Jimmy the Turd,” but at James the Second, for apparently forgetting where he was when he used that anecdote. I guess it actually went over more like a turd in church. You just don’t hear the word “turd” from the pulpit, you know?


Then there are, of course, those names that are funny because of how they do or don’t match the person’s profession or personality. I was referred by my internist to a gastroenterologist, whose name I thought was “Dr. Bott.” When I went to look up the number, though, I realized I was actually being sent (for a colonoscopy) to “Dr. Butt,” and I just couldn’t go there. Some things just aren’t funny.


So tell us your funny name stories!

UPDATE: OK, Shithead is just a little too bad to be true. Jif thought the guy was telling the truth, because, as I say, he’s not a joker. But I just googled and while there is some suggestion that Shithead is a Finnish name (pronounced shuh-teed, which would be sorta consistent with the guy’s story), there is also a lot of mention of the name Shithead as an “urban legend.” So. Don’t want to mislead anyone. Particularly any of you looking for baby names 😉

file under: &Can’t Make This Stuff Up


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