Long ago, my mother admitted that she wanted to name me "Raphael." Fortunately, my father intervened and insisted on the more conventional "Eric." I can hardly fathom what it would have been like growing up as Ralph Saferstein. Or even worse, what about Rafe? What the fuck is that?
Not as though it's breaking news, but personal names have risen to a level of maximum absurdity over the past decade. I call it the "American Idol Phenomenon." Everybody thinks their child has the potential to be a celebrity these days. Perhaps if I name my daughter "Cinammon," someone will take heed. Wait a minute, that spelling is so mundane. How about we spell her name "Sinumen?" This way, she'll get even more attention. But what if they pronounce it wrong? Perhaps a trip to the medicine cabinet is in order and we'll just call her Mucinex?
The reason I call it the American Idol Phenomonen is that in a country of 300 million plus, it seems like every newborn has to be special. It's not enough that they're born healthy and exist. They must be prepared to enter some kind of talent or pageantry contest the immediate moment they exit the womb. We need to pierce Punta Kanta's ears and belly button. She'll be a superstar in no time and it will elevate our family to fame and fortune, or at least some marginal level of acceptance amongst the beanie baby collectors.
This morning, the health and human services people in New Jersey "repossessed" 2 children named Adolph Hitler and Jocelyn Aryan Nation. Not sure what their last name is. Not sure why they had to take custody of the children either - I don't think you can make that information immediately public. These were the same parents who wanted to get the name Adolf Hitler placed on the kid's birthday cake and the grocery store refused thus setting off a firestorm of controversy last month. I find it comical that parents across the nation will think this is hideous. Meanwhile, they yell at their son, "Jagermeister, finish your lima beans! "Somalia, don't tease your brother!"
The American Idol Phenomenon is very similar to the Maury Povich Paternity Testing Phenomenon. Both are heavily rooted in this "my child is so special, he/she could grow up to be the next President of the United States" concept. Despite the fact that mom is a corpulent stripper and daddy sells dime bags of oregano from the Burger King drive-thru. "Maury, look at my daughter! She's so special. That's my world. That's my life. She need to know who her daddy is. Salmonella need a daddy." I agree. Salmonella certainly does need a father figure. Even though her mother is testing the 8th man after the previous 7 were determined NOT to be the father. You see, it's my contention that just perhaps, just maybe - Salmonella will not become this famous celebrity. Salmonella will never be in a position to advance the existence of her parents. Maybe, just maybe, her parents are setting her up for a life of scorn and ridicule. Maybe Salmonella (her friends call her Sally; oops, wait a minute, spelled Sallee (porn-style spelling)), won't become the future Ambassador to Guam. Then again, it's possible that her neighbor will join the fad and name her son "Trichinosis" or "Trick" for short.
In retrospect, I fully realize that names like Jennifer, Sam, John, etc. are not hip enough in this day and age of instant fame and glitzing bling. And sure, I know - every child is a special gift from god and a wondrous bundle of shitting/urinating joy.
Ok, NOW I GET IT. One day it will be me on the grand stage. And in the case of precious baby Urethra... Eric, you are the father!" And even though I charge backstage demanding another paternity test, I really should have known all along - she had her father's cynical disposition. URETHRA, YOU IS MY EVERYTHING!"