Woman #1: 'Hi, I'm Jan, and this is my boyfriend, Tommy."
Woman #2: "Hello. I'm Raquel, and this is Luis. My mom named my sisters and me after movie stars. I was named after Raquel Welch. My sister, Tina, was named for Tina Louise. My sister, Yvonne, was named for Yvonne DeCarlo, a great actress of the '40s. And, then there's Norma Jean. And, well, you know who she was named after."
I was stunned. How could any self-respecting mom name her girls after Hollywood starlets? More to the point, Marilyn Monroe aside, who would name her kids after B-level TV actresses? Yvonne DeCarlo's chief claim to fame was playing Mrs. Herman Munster on TV and Tina Louise was the
glamorous Ginger in 'Gilligan's Island', another one-and-done, ersatz 1960s TV sitcom. And, while Raquel Welch proved herself a competent Broadway actress in later life (and, guest starred in one of my all-time favorite 'Seinfeld' episodes), she's certainly not A-level material.
The whole scene got me thinking. Maybe naming one's kids after marginal actresses reflects a larger trend of Americans embracing all things mediocre? (i.e. 'Glee,' fast food, the former Alaskan governor, etc.).
If my hypothesis is accurate, why limit the name game to Hollywood's second-tier performers? How about naming one's sons after, say, obscure 19th century U.S. presidents? 'Hi. I'm Rutherford. My brothers and I were named after other, little-known American presidents. There's Millard, James Knox and my kid brother, William Henry. But, everyone calls him 'Tippecanoe.'"
And, what about utterly forgettable sports stars? "Nice to make your acquaintance. I'm Wally and was named after Wally Pipp, who played first base for the Yankees before Lou Gehrig. This is my twin brother, Donny. He's named for Donny Anderson, who succeeded the Packers' Golden Boy, Paul Hornung, but accomplished absolutely nothing in his pro career. Then there's my sister, Tonya, whose Olympic figure skating namesake's career was, shall we say, whacked?'
Imagine going through life named in honor of a second-rate actress, an unknown president or a failed athlete? Talk about overcoming image and reputation challenges.
The Colts Neck materfamilias is clearly a trendsetter in the name game. And, who knows where it will lead? In fact, I'll bet some mom is already planning on naming her brood after the ultimate Hollywood bad boys. There would be Errol (for Errol Flynn), Nick (for Nick Nolte), Robert (for
Robert Downey, Jr,) and the pick of the litter, Charlie (named for the one, and only, Charlie Sheen). Winning!