9. Names Can Be Amusing

by H. W. Moss

She said the child was named Austin. So I asked innocently, “Named him for the city in Texas?”

“Nope. For the back seat of the car in which he was conceived.”

I was recently introduced to a woman named Dudley. “I like it,” I said, “but that’s usually a man’s name.”

“Yes, my mother either had a great sense of humor, or she was terribly confused when the doctor said, ‘It’s a girl.’”

This fellow introduced himself as Justin. My standard response to that is, “Just in time?”

“Justin Case. That’s my middle name, Case.”

Needless to say I challenged him on that and he drew out his wallet with the name Justin Case just like he said. Naturally, I had to learn how he came about having such an amusing name.

“My parents were sure I was going to be a girl, so they didn’t have a boy’s name picked out. The nurse said, ‘Don’t you think you should have a boy’s name just in case?’”

Recently, however, I replied to another Justin with Time, and his response was, “Justincredible.” I rather liked that.

Her name was Labella. I thought it Italian but didn’t believe it was spelled correctly. It should be two words, both might be capitalized and I translated it as “The Beautiful.” So I asked her.

“Nope. It’s a misspelling of the flower, lobelia.”

Here’s how that happened: Her mother had the name of the flower all picked out. But when she got to the hospital, attendants immediately gave her a drug with the unusual result that the nurse had to fill out the birth certificate. Mom gave birth. When asked what name the child was to be given, she mispronounced the word and the nurse wrote down what she thought she heard.

My cousin, Ray, is a grandfather again. His son, Ryan, had a son and the wife, Kim, was out strolling with the new baby when an older gentleman came up and asked, “What’s his name?”

“Simon,” she replied.

“Ah. A good biblical name.”

Kim confided to Ray she didn’t have the heart to tell him the baby was named after one of the Chipmunks.

I was shooting a game of pool with Brian Boyd when I asked if he ever spells his first name wrong, as in “brain.” That’s not as unusual a question as you might think. I’ve spelled my cousin Brian’s name wrong that way a couple times and had to correct it before sending an email.

Ask anyone named Brian and they will tell you they don’t, but everyone else misspells it. This particular Brian confirmed my suspicions and added: “Early on I learned my last name can be re-spelled ‘body.’ So I’m Brain Body.”

I have a friend of Danish extraction named Jesper. That’s pronounced Yes-purr. No one in America ever gets it right. Even when he corrects them they read it again and get it wrong.

My brother is named Kioren. This is an old and honorable Irish name usually spelled Kiran and often pronounced Kee-rahn. However, I have met one Irishman with the spelling Keoran who pronounced it the way my brother pronounces his, Kear-en. I have no idea how the actor Kieron Moore who was in “The Day of the Triffids” (1963) pronounced his own name.

Many movies have one name titles such as “Harvey,” “Morgan” and “Marty.” However, people with these names may never have seen the eponymous film. Who remembers Vanessa Redgrave in “Morgan” (1966), a cult comedy about a guy who likes to wear a gorilla suit? “Harvey” (1953), of course, starred Jimmy Stewart as a tippler who talked to a giant rabbit. Very funny performance. And Ernest Borgnine was “Marty” (1955) which won Academy Awards for best picture and actor.

Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964) starred Tippi Hedren and “Shane” (1953) with Alan Ladd is a classic Western. Again over a game of pool I turned to my opponent, a young man with blond hair and tats up his arms to ask if he was named after the movie. His name was Shane.

“As a matter of fact, I was.”

A girl at the opposite side of the room gasped. “So was I. ‘Marnie.’”

Shane told me a friend of his father also admired Alan Ladd. So Shane’s childhood chum was named Alan.

Then there’s cousin Cloyd. Not Lloyd, which I’ve never understood why it was spelled with two “ells” anyway, but Loyd with a C as if it was Charlie and Lloyd put together.

Billy Bob Ray was hitching a ride when we picked him up somewhere outside Tracy, CA. He hopped in with a big smile, greeted us and gave his name, his full three word name, at which point I said, “How’d you get three first names?”

“Ray’s a first name too?” he replied with some astonishment.