What’s the Harm in Monikers?

Names are in the news again.

Holmes

You really can’t fault the organizers of the campaign to banish the uttering of mass-murder suspect James Holmes’ name. If it turns out that he is, in fact, guilty, they want to keep him from becoming famous for committing an unforgivable crime. Shunning is certainly a painful and effective punishment – excruciating even for the most anti-social and maladjusted among us. And if one could truly be left without an identity and so completely erased as to have never existed, that would be profound. But you know how we humans are. We’re always going to slap a title on things, even if it’s “That Thing Without A Name.”

I question the wisdom of turning our backs on evil – it’s much better to remember it and, if possible, tell stories about how it got that way. For my money, the name “James Holmes” is rather ordinary and already quite close to invisible. Sorry for the offense to all the James’s and Holmes’s out there. It would be a mercy to them if the name’s connection with this horror was covered over forever.

Ochocinco

A flashy name can be a marketing tool. Chad Ochocinco is a football player who used to be known as Chad Johnson, but he changed it to be a Latin echo of the number he wore on his uniform – “85″. He was pretty good as Johnson, but more flamboyant and memorable as Ochocinco. He played better as Johnson, got more press as Ochocinco, and was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Chad just got married and his new wife, Evelyn Lozada, let it be known she did not want to become an Ochocinco. So much for the show biz name – he’s going back to Johnson. “Chad Lozada” sounds nice, though. What would be wrong with that?

Mr. Leader

Over in London, Mitt Romney learned how difficult it is to be perfect when everyone is watching every move and examining each word. The British press is aggressive to begin with. They pounced on poor Mitt repeatedly. In one gaffe, the expected Republican nominee gave the head of Britain’s Labour Party by the wrong honorific. The Wall Street Journal says:

Unfortunately, as Mr. Romney was seeking to get back on track, Mr. Romney incorrectly called Mr. Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, “Mr. Leader.” This is not what he is called, as the local media was quick to point out.

Britain is so overloaded with titled people, it would be difficult for a visitor to keep track. I credit Romney with a good guess under pressure. Why not “Mr. Leader”? I don’t know how the British Labour Party chief is supposed to be addressed. His party is not the one running the government, so would “Your irrelevance” be appropriate? And what about the Brits addressing Romney? That can’t be easy. What do you call the presumptive presidential nominee (but not yet) of the party out of power in the executive branch but very much calling the shots in the legislative branch. “Mr. Squarejaw Pricey Pants”?

Clearly, names are frustrating, provocative and exhausting.

But a good one will take you far.

What honorific would you attach to spice up your name?

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118 thoughts on “What’s the Harm in Monikers?”

  1. Good morning. When I was a sub teacher I referred to the students as guys. Guys is usually plural and refers to a group of people, but it can be used in the singular to refer to one person. In fact, I think I remember being addressed as guy by some people as in “hey guy, how are you doing?” I don’t know that calling me guy would spice me up and it isn’t really a tittle. I have been called Mister. I would prefer guy. It’s friendly, not too formal, and doesn’t elevate you as a special person who is better than others in some way.

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        1. Dude wouldn’t work for me. I’m kind of old fashion, but maybe Guy Noir should update. Not me.

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        2. um, I think Mr. Noir would think himself quite youthful and hip if he employed, Dude (but then, I am thinking he would also have to start using “totally” as an expression of the affirmative, and that thought is making my brain ache).

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        3. I don’t know why, but I like the sound of ‘El Jefe Noir.’ Especially if you give ‘Jefe’ a really sibliant ‘h’ sound.

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  2. Myself, I’ve always thought the title Empress of all Russia sounded good, but then I consider and realize that would involve a lot more work than I am willing to commit to, just to get some great clothes and a nicer house.

    I think Secret Agent could work, as long as the secret is so well kept, no one has a clue as to what I am supposed to be doing. I’m going to log in with it to see how it looks with the abbreviated gravatar name I have been christened with by thoughtful Baboons…..

    I wonder how the great-grandmother in my gravatar would feel about her alternative career?-might have to change that up….

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    1. My typing teacher in high school (yes, I took typing…thank the Lord!) didn’t like her name, Colleen Harder. So, Ms. Harder told us to call her something much more adventurous, exotic, and exciting…to us, she was Vanessa Danger.

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      1. I can totally see a woman being a high school typing teacher as the alter-ego to her secret agent/super hero persona. I think I would keyboard faster today if I had been taught by Vanessa Danger!

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      2. When I hear the name “Harder” my brain instantly goes to the Jay Leno schtick where he reads the wedding announcements. For example, had Colleen fallen in love with Bob Wiener, we would have had the Harder-Wiener wedding. Yuch.

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  3. oh, and for the record, I call the presumptive GOP nominee, “Mr. Romney” as in, “If Mr. Romney would trouble himself to remember people’s names, he would perhaps look a bit less foolish”.

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      1. I’m thinking of some not honorable honorifics I might use for Romney which I will not mention here.

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  4. It has a nice gangster-y ring to it, doesn’t it? I’d like to make people think, “Better not mess with her.”

    Plus, you can’t go wrong with alliteration when it comes to names.

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    1. Okay, Lucky Linda. We had better not mess with you because we don’t want you to make us an offer that we can’t refuse, right?

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      1. Careful, Jim. Charles Lindbergh (aviator) was called “Lucky Lindy.” He hated it. Al Lindner (fisherman) was called “Lucky Lindy.” He hated it. I’m not sure our Linda will be thrilled by the name you propose.

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        1. Oh, I thought she was proposing Lucky Linda as her new name. If not, I guess I had better be careful.

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        2. yeah but lindberg was a nazi and lindner was a red neck. linda picked her own moniker and has the good sense to feel lucky about it.

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    2. Hm…I think the Lindbergh and Linder references are excellent points. And keep in mind that alliteration isn’t -always- your friend. Double ‘L’s’ always put me in mind of how many double-L characters there are throughout the history of Superman.
      http://superman.wikia.com/wiki/LL

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  5. Yesterday afternoon two young black women rang my doorbell. When I answered the door, the older of the two, and clearly the one in charge, asked if I was the diva of the house. When I protested that I wasn’t sure that the title diva was a particularly good fit for me she asked me what my name was. During the remainder of her elaborate and lengthy sales spiel she called me Miss Margaret; made me feel like I had been transported back in time to a Southern plantation, a very, very uncomfortable feeling.

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      1. That reminds me of being in New York city where women waiting on you usually refer to you as sweetie. As a born and breed Midwesterner, it always sounds funny to me when they do that.

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        1. Boy, that’s a fact. Or down south, where they call you “Hon.” I always get a little twinge of ‘what?’ when strangers call me “Hon.”

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      1. Me too, guy! Call me biased or whatever, but when MSNBC gave Al Sharpton a prime time daily show, I had to tune out due to his nearly unrecognizable slaughter of the English language. But then, an Australian accent is also like chalk on a blackboard to me!

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  6. I am queasy when confronted with one of those online forms we have to fill out (to “sign up” or “apply for membership” or “register” or whatever). Sometimes you cannot avoid filling those things out (like we did to become eligible to post here). Many of those forms force me to indicate my title. I don’t have a title. I don’t want a title. Presumably, people who are not a “Doctor” or “Professor” or whatever are supposed to be happy with the all-purpose title of “Mister.” But I hate it when people call me Mister. The honorific title that should not offend is “Sir,” but I hate that too. When a pretty woman stops at a door to let me walk though first, she drives a dagger in my heart; if she also says, “Here you go, Sir! she twists the knife!

    So the next time I’m asked for my title, I’ve decided to choose “Sahib.” Sahib Steve. After all, you can’t go wrong with alliteration.

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        1. after this latest trip to duluth, i think my hair is a lot whiter than it was – what’s left of it, that is. I pulled out handfuls of it.

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    1. ‘Sahib’ is really quite good. Keep in mind that honorifics are also matters of convenience. It’s easier using a standard one than something like ‘Entity,’ ‘Thing,’ or ‘Animated Self-Aware Multi-Cellular Organism.’

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        1. I sure hope so, but there are days when the s&h informs me that he despairs of the accuracy of that designation.

          I suspect somedays, he feels it would be most accurate to call me mig, Zombie Mom-in the most loving way, of course.

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      1. I like SWMBO because you could pronouce it “swimbo”. Throw the extra “B” in there for baboon and your subjects become a babbling idiots trying to pronounce.

        Speaking of – a fellow employee was realizing that the problem he was reporting was simply user error. He said it was a code ID10T. I thought that was cute.

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    1. Okay, She Baboon Who Must Be Obeyed. Does this mean I should salute when addressing you?

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      1. I think it means you should think twice before addressing her at all. As with the queen, it is best for one to wait until one is addressed.

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  7. i love squarejaw pricey pants. i think it may stick. i was thinking “mr havnt got a clue about what i havnt got a clue about” would be a good name too. the brits put it to him though. having a security program in the middle of nowhere is a bit different than in one of the crossroad, premier, multicultural cities of the world where people are packed tighter than new york city vs salt lake where even the west nile virus would stand out.
    for me the added moniker would be a added fluff. lc tim is redundant lc signifying lower case. mr , dr, tim the effort seems moot. tim the typo is too obvious. tim is all that is required.
    my dad had a friend when i was a little kid. his name was charley. i asked him if he didnt have a name like all the other men. mr something. he said nope just charley. and he was too. all my life he was just charley. my dads other friends were mr cole and me bardon but charley was always charley. stilll is. simple is better sometimes.
    sorry to miss out on steves wonderful post yesterday about the fireplace and olou. one of a kind indeed. the best one of a kind for me is the trail. this is the best example of irreplacable singleness i have in my life. new floks pop in and are delights but the old stand bys make it a one of a kind place to check in to make sure the world is right. bib needs to get a different routine and wtf stucj her head in and was a treat to have in the circle but the old heart of the group makes it special. out before the 6am start yesterday back at 1030 ready to drop. i thought about tryng to get it in last night but did the crash and burn with the laptop on my chest in bed. nice to wake up to. see you all later.

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  8. I dislike being referred to as “Doctor B. . . .” because I was taught it is not appropriated for people with PhDs to refer to themselves that way, and I feel it creates a barrier between me and my clients and colleagues. Not everyone in my profession feels the same way, I am afraid. I will refer to myself as “Dr. ” if I am trying to get a hold of a psychiatrist or medical doctor by phone for a work related issue, since hospital and clinic receptionists seem to work a little harder to connect me to the person I am looking for. “She who must be obeyed” seems to be taken already. I think that I could live with “High Mucky Muck Admiral Queen” as a moniker.

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    1. i have always been tempted to reply to those forms that ask for your preferred title with a check mark in the dr box. i have a feeling it would get you a little quicker table in the line at perkins and it would go so well my chosen name when they ask for it. (mahoskowitz) dr mahoskowitz has a nice ring to it eh?
      my uncle paul was joe barsocky. i loved that one too.

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      1. i have been using gilligan for a first name. do you like dr gilligan mahoskowitz? i think it carries a certain something. calling dr gilligan mahoskowitz calling dr gilligan mahoskowitz. remember the old movies where someone would be paged in the dining room and lobby of the ritzy hotel by the concierge walking erect and calling out… dr gilligan mahoskowitz. heck hes the president and ceo of the travail mug company.

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        1. ok, I am going to be giggling about the idea of the page “Dr. Gilligan Mahoskowitz, code blue, stat!” all day. By the time you get that spit out, it is going to be too late for the patient.

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      2. MD’s of my acquaintance tell me that sometimes have Dr. in front of your name means that you get charged more for things. I would resist the impulse if I were you.

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    2. My boss at my first job told me that I should put ‘M.S.’ on my business cards to reflect my Master’s Degree. I told him exactly what you said, that I considered it a barrier between me and my customers.

      You could go by a person who solves puzzles, ‘Polymath.’ Or something to reflect the ambiguities of the human mind, ‘Mysterion.’ How about ‘Brain Straightener?’

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      1. No need to worry about that, TGITH. I’d clear up any confusion by wearing a t-shirt with my title printed above an aerial-view picture of two golf balls, one on each side of my putter blade. ;-)

        Chris

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        1. This brings to mind a very short and fat little girl named Brenda who everyone called “Putt-Putt” because it took her so long to run the 600 yard dash in school. She left us in Grade 7 and moved to another town. She came back for a visit when we were in Grade 11, “Putt Putt” no longer. She had slimmed and elongated in to a tall, thin, and gorgeous blonde. It was odd to hear people exclaim “Have you seen Putt-Putt’? The name and the person just didn’t fit anymore. I bet she just hated us.

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  9. I was Miss Britson with the kindergarteners, and put up with that because it did confirm that I was a teacher – at the time (1970) almost ALL teachers were Miss and Mr. But I was also part of the new wave of teachers that wanted less formality, so I was happy when working with preschoolers later on to be just “Barbara”.

    Actually, I’d like to be SWAGHW – She Who Always Gets Her Way, but it makes an unpronouncable acronym. My folks sometimes called me “Missy Britson”, probably when I was
    being a bit too big for my britches. At this point my britches are already big, so let’s go with Missy Barbara.

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  10. I wasn’t gonna do thins because it is too obvious, but while listening to it I heard that line about how he “ducked back in the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl.” How can I resist?

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    1. Nowadays, glitter princesses are called ‘vampires.’ I remember when they used to be scary…

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      1. Really? I didn’t have a clue… obviously I need to get out of my studio more often – away from the glue fumes and actual glitter!

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      2. “I remember when they used to be scary.” The vampires or the glitter princesses? I find the latter much scarier than the former, myself.

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  11. Her Unroyal Amazingness and Most High Silliness, Keeper of the Sacred Bundt and Protector of the Sidewalk Chalk – that might do nicely. Though the acronym, HUAMHSKSBPSC is a bit of a mouthful, and sounds like you’re sneezing violently. But perhaps that is how best to greet me then, in your best Marx Bros or Buster Keaton inspired sneeze. I shall have a basset hound as my unroyal steed and a tiara with all the best sparkles.

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    1. I think Keeper of the Sacred Bundt is the part I find most important.

      It might actually be cool enough to think about using the oven today……
      oh wait, boy going away for 2 weeks, best just make the Friday scones which can be easily consumed before departure time.

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        1. “Our Bundt Cake, which art in the oven, hallowed be thy taste…
          Thy batter done, thy baking begun
          In my kitchen as it is in yours
          Give us this day our daily bundt
          And deliver us from Twinkies
          For thine is the sweetness, and the flour, and the glory
          For ever and ever.”

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    1. For today’s hymn please open your hymnals and join Ann Reed and the choir
      Betty Crocker
      (to the tune of Davy Crockett)
      Lyrics: Ann Reed • © 2008 Turtlecub Publishing

      Born in a kitchen in the great Midwest
      All of her recipes put to the test
      Grew up strong, grew up free
      Bake her first cake when she was only three
      Betty, Betty Crocker
      Queen of the wild frontier

      Forever young and a little bit shy
      Keeps a tight lid on her personal life
      Has us guessin’, she always will
      Did Betty shack up with General Mills?
      Betty, Betty Crocker
      Queen of the wild frontier

      Had a hard day or in a bad mood
      And all you want is some comfort food
      The lady in red is on your team
      ‘Cause Betty believes in butter and cream
      Betty, Betty Crocker
      Queen of the wild frontier

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      1. I feel a need now for a benediction…(mostly since I can’t wrap my head fully around a single creed yet):
        May the Bundt feed you and sweeten you
        May its warmth fill you and be tasty onto you
        May the Bundt lift up your spirits
        And give you a piece

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  12. On th4e megabus headed to Chicago and a sibling reunion. Ihaven’t been introduced yet, but there is a Miss don’t care if I am in an inclosed space with a lot of other people, I will paint my nails, 3 coats, sitting across the aisle. I am temptied to assu me the persona of Miss Here let me ake that from you. slow computer, low battery, bouncy ride, good topic, funnyOh, great titled baboons

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  13. Whoo Hoo! I have just turned off my work computer, changed my voice mail message, and I am out of the office until Aug 7. You can call me “Renee who is on vacation”, and if there is an emergency press zero; if it can wait, leave a message and I will return your call as soon as I return to the office! We are off to the Pine Ridge Reservation for four days of performing. Lots to do before we leave, as going down there is kind of challenging regarding food and necessities a person takes for granted will be available at the store down the street, since there really isn’t a store down the street. Our van is full of sound equipment and instruments, and we need to squeeze in extra food and luggage. My wardrobe will be what ever is cool and also protects me from rattle snakes. It will be very strange to be away from work, child, pets, and garden. I don’t know what I will do in the spare time we will have. SIt and think? Now that is an idea! We will travel down I-90 after Pine Ridge to see my parents. We will wave to Donna as we pass through Sioux Falls. We also plan to stop in the butcher shop in Newell, SD to place an order for a couple of lambs. It is just lousy with sheep there.

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  14. I already have the only honorific I ever really cared about.
    But first I have to give you some background. My father’s father immigrated from Sweden in 1916. He and my grandmother lived about 2 blocks from us when I was very young. I adored him. Once, when I was about 3 years old, I let myself out of our house and walked alone to his to visit him.He was almost ten years younger than I am now when he died. I was 4 at the time. I called him “Bumpa”
    Flash forward. I have my own grandchildren. My granddaughter, who is 3, has chosen without any coaching to call me, of all things, “Bumpa Bill”. It thrills me every time.
    I think from now on when filling out forms that ask for a title, I’ll use Bumpa.

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    1. Nice post. My grandparents were omie and ompa. They immigrated from Hamburg and Bremen about the time your grandfather came over.

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