What's in a name? Plenty - and maybe not so much after all
You may have heard about the minor to-do a couple weeks back when hip-hop celebrity Sean Combs announced he'd changed his name once again.
After all, the guy had already declared himself, at various times, Diddy, Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Puffy and probably some others I don't recall right now. Apparently, he decided on his 48th birthday that he'd like to be known as Brother Love — which promptly irritated "the original" Brother Love, pro wrestler Bruce Prichard, who's gone by that moniker since 1988.
First of all, what's with the constant name changing? I know this is America, and we're free to call ourselves anything we want. Hell, when musician Prince decided he would only answer to an unpronounceable symbol, we all had to call him "the artist formerly known as Prince" for quite some time — until he apparently came to his senses and re-adopted his old stage name once again.
But if we can't settle on something — even if it's something stupid and irritating to those around us, like Sting, Edge, Thor, Tarzan or Zorro — it just gets confusing for the rest of us. And, let's face it, if you can't decide once and for all what we should call you, it makes you seem not only pretentious and self-absorbed, it's impractical.
Sentence servers, for instance, are surely challenged by celebrities or lame-brains who can't live with one name for more than a year or two.
What is, after all, in a name? You know what they say about the rose, right? Whatever it's called, the odor is the same, or something like that.
What if Oprah got jacked up on goofballs (or triple espressos) and decreed she would from this point on be known as Stands With Fist Winfrey? Would she then preside over the SWF Network and magazine? I can only hope not.
It's true that some people have truly amazing names — brands, if you will. Think of it, we have a former president called "W." One simple letter conjures up pages of memories, good, bad and otherwise.
Show business has given us some of our most interesting changed names. Archibald Leach became Cary Grant.
Some of the most famous noms de plume in the creative world include Mark Twain, Abigail Van Buren, George Orwell, O. Henry, Woody Allen and Flavor Flav.
My mother decided, with the help of one of those "What To Name Your Baby" books, that my name would be spelled M-I-K-E-L. Of the three Michaels in my first-grade class, mine was the only spelling that made any sense to me at all. For that reason alone, I've made my peace with my name and resisted urges to call myself Thunderbolt or Superstud Kelly.
I'm not sure if the most popular names of today — Emma, Olivia, Ava, Sophia and Isabella for girls, and Liam, Noah, Logan, Lucas and Mason for boys — are any less likely to be changed later on to Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent or DMX. If they are, it will seem to be a drastic revision, considering how old-fashioned and biblical the most popular names of 2017 are.
Some famous people appear to be downright name-hungry. Novel writer Dean Koontz, for example, in addition to the several hundred best-sellers he's given us under his own name, has written others bearing the names David Axton, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, K.R. Dwyer, Brian Coffey, Anthony North, Aaron Wolfe and Owen West.
To which I can only say, Geesh, man; pick one and stick with it.
If I were a public radio reporter, for instance, I would want a name in the tradition of Pooneh Ghoddoosi, Yuki Noguchi and Sylvia Poggioli. Those are names that roll off the tongue, for Pete's sake. I think I'd want to be called Rootie Kazootie, in homage to a favorite Little Golden Book character from my childhood.
Mikel John Kelly is a retired newspaper editor who has way too much time on his hands. With some of it he contributes an occasional column.