Many years ago, I was at an event where former newspaper columnist and now author Dave Barry was signing copies of his latest book.
I was patiently waiting in line to have my copy of Dave’s book autographed when my wife asked me if I was going to say something funny to Dave.
“No,” I explained. “Dave doesn’t need morons like me trying to be funny.”
When it was my turn to have my book signed, I couldn’t help myself. When Dave looked up and asked my name so he could personalize the inscription, I said, “Mike,” and then because I thought it would be funny, I said, “With a ‘G.’”
Dave stopped signing and looked up at me.
“Really?” he asked with a face that said, “I think you might be insane.”
“No, no, heh-heh, I was joking,” I said.
“Oh,” Dave said, not laughing. “You never know with people and names.”
I learned two valuable lessons that day:
When you tell yourself to keep your mouth shut and not be funny, keep your mouth shut.
And, people really do nutty things with the names of their children.
At that point in his career, Dave had probably signed thousands of books, and in that time something tells me he had to spell “Mike” with a “G” at least once.
I’m not sure how you would do that, but if I had to guess I would say the “G” would go somewhere in the middle. Like this: “Migke.”
That’s just a guess.
I was thinking about that encounter with Dave Barry while reading a story about banned baby names in New Zealand.
According to the story, the New Zealand Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages recently released an updated list of 77 unacceptable baby names. When I read that, a couple of thoughts popped into my head.
The first thought was: I would hate to be the switchboard operator at the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Talk about pressure.
“You have reached the Office of Births. Let me be the first to congratulate you on your wonderful news. Now, how can I help you? What? Oh, so sorry. They sent you to the wrong office. I’ll connect you with Deaths right away.”
My second thought was: Really? In New Zealand the government can have a say in naming your baby?
That seems odd coming from a country named New Zealand. No offense, but the name New Zealand creates more questions than it answers. It implies that at one time there must have been an Old Zealand, which makes one ask what happened to Old Zealand since it never seems to come up in polite conversation anymore.
Then I read that some European countries also occasionally get involved in the baby-naming business. The point, according to the article, was to keep parents from giving their children names that will scar them for life.
Like “Newt” for example.
Ha. That’s a Newt Gingrich joke.
Some of the names on the New Zealand list of banned names sort of make sense. Names like “89,” for example. Or “III.” The name “Mafia No Fear” was on the list, along with “Chief,” “Mr,” “V8” and “H-Q.”
The New Zealand baby name police also rejected just about every name related to royalty. So if you want to name your kid Duke, King, Princess, Prince or Majesty, you might want to avoid New Zealand.
I guess New Zealand is worried that someone who was given the name Prince would later actually turn out to be a real prince and therefore have to go by the name Prince Prince. And if the guy’s last name was also Prince, well, you can see that a catastrophe would have been averted.
Oddly enough, the name “Newt” also was on New Zealand’s banned list.
But it was spelled with a “G.”
Mike Pound is a columnist for The Joplin (Mo.) Globe. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.