The poet once said that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Ultimately the question was: "What's in a name?"

Well the thing about the rose is technically correct. But this analogy has to be used carefully because certainly there are times when a name is important. You see a rose can't pout, respond to teasing or be impacted emotionally or socially for what it is called. A rose can't file a lawsuit, climb a tower with an automatic weapon or suffer from lack of self-esteem.

This limited botanical reasoning fits the poet's need, but even then I know some country songwriters who could add a steel guitar and an upright base and debunk the whole notion.

I say this as once again I caution parents to think long and hard when choosing names for their kids. It has long bothered me that some kids get tagged with names that they won't even be able to spell until they are in fifth grade. And when they graduate, the poor guy presenting the diplomas and pronouncing the names flops around behind the podium like a clogger in a fish net.

I think names sometime become crosses for kids to bear and might even impact their lifestyles and career choices.

In an earlier column I advocated that a child should have the right to change his name by the fourth grade if he or she feels it's too much of a burden -- like a sulfur bag tied around his neck. In lieu of that, I would suggest a five-day waiting period before parents can attach a name to a child, thus giving some parents the chance to come to their senses or to have counseling on their choices.

Several years back, a woman named her twins Syphilis and Gonorrhea. No, I didn't make this up. As humorist Art Buchwald so aptly stated, satire gets harder every day because of truth being what it has become.

Anyway, in this case a judge basically said, "No ma'am you won't." I don't recall if it was a state judge who may have determined this to be "cruel and unusual punishment" or a federal judge who saw it as being directly opposed to the concept of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It might just have been an instance where the jurist cut to the chase and said, "Woman, you're crazy and it ain't gonna happen!"

Now obviously this is an extreme example.

But we all know that a name can make or break a situation.

A sound name, a good name, a strong name or a clever name can sell, literally or figuratively.

To illustrate my point, think about that old popular Brazilian folk song, "The Girl From Ipanema."

It's been crooned by many songsters. It has a flow. One imagines a tall, dark, gorgeous, mysterious woman walking barefoot on a sandy beach in the tropics. The sea breeze is blowing her long dark hair. Some fisherman is yelling to her in Portuguese. I have no idea what he's saying, but she pulls her linen shirt tighter to her bosom.

Now the songwriter could have used the same melodic phrasing and the same orchestration and titled it "The Girl From Ludowici." The song likely would have died as a demo tape unless it was a rendition by Cletus T. Judd.

Now I'm not throwing off on Ludowici or to suggest that it could not be part of a song title. I'm sure Ray Stevens could make it happen. I'm just saying that it's all about time, place and flow. A name is important to the cause, or to the kid.

I fully realize it's not impossible for a Horatio, Murvis or Purcival to become a star quarterback. But why make him face an extra linebacker every day of his life when the conventional structure of the game is quite enough?

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545, ext. 214. E-mail:

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