Bingbing Fan. Fun to look at- fun to pronounce
How do we handle the tsunami of diverse names parents are giving their children? There are consequences.
George, John, and Alan: Could be names of our founding fathers in 1776. Actually they’re the names of my 8th grade class of 1952. You can still find Johns and Georges around but they sound so “yesterday”.
The Chinese film star in the Bruce Willis movie AIR STRIKE, is Ms Bingbing Fan. Our Boston Red Sox team won the Series last year thanks to Mookie Betts. Olympic gold medalist and world champion skier Picabo Street also has a unique name. Hollywood stars have never been burdened by tradition when naming their children:
“Zuma Nesta” is Gwen Stafani’s child
“Aleph” was born to Natalie Portman
“Moon Unit” and “Dweezil” are Frank Zappa’s two kids.
Back in the day, no Mookies, Bingbings or Zuma Nestas ever walked in the door of my 8th grade class. But U.S. maternity wards are turning out more boys named Liam than any other name. Untried names are a jolt for us but there’s no going back. What if the seven billion people on earth were all called John or Jane? We need more names.
Mooky and Binging are outlandish and fun to pronounce. With my own non-Biblical name is not hard to say. But that’s only if you’re not standing in the coffee take-out line. I say “Mack” at Starbucks. When standing between impatient caffeine addicts and their Joe, it is quicker to say “Mack” and nobody gets hurt.
Incognito at the coffee line is a manageable life event. But if your name is Picabo, what happens in moments that aren’t humorous. You don’t want the unique name or humor:
“Hello, 911? I want to report and emergency!”
“Yes, and who is calling?”
” Peck a Who ?”
“P-i-c-a-b-o. As in Peeee Kaaaa Boooo? ”
What happens at the job interview receptionist desk…. “Who may I say is calling?”
At Starbucks, you call yourself whatever you want. Coffee counter man doesn’t give a damn. It’s more somber at the mortgage banker’s desk, standing in clourt before a judge or at the DMV.
“My name is Bingbing and I’d like to change my license plate.”
“Who did you say you were? Bing like in Bing Crosby?”
IRS Agents, auto tow truck operator or sleepy 911 operators may not be up for such humor when “Moon Unit” calls. Sometimes you just need some reliable assistance. To get the help you want you want to preserve your own dignity and credibility. How do you pull that off when the inspector on the other end of the line asks you:
“Is Dweezil your first or last name? Is that with two or three z’s?”
You’d get so much laughter you’d never get to the question. Or they’d just hang up.
You project entertaining humor or outlandishness with your personality, wardrobe or voice. But names are the first thing people know about you and they make judgments accordingly. You can’t change names as quickly as a jacket. John and Jane are “yesterday” but allow you to call an ambulance and not sound like a joke.
My favorite is the guy who came into Starbucks and said his name was “The Lord be with you”. When the barista called out his name half those waiting replied “And also with you!” BTW, one of our dogs is named Liam because we adopted him on St. Patrick’s Day.