Have you ever Googled your name? It's quite a shock because up until that moment you somehow lived with the false reality that you were the only person with your name in the whole world.
Even if your name is a little different you usually have someone else walking around answering to the same moniker which is a little unnerving--names are such personal things it's almost like finding out you have a Doppelganger.
Well here are some of my favorite names--both fictional and real--and I find myself rolling them around on my tongue from time to time. Or maybe I should say that they're some of the most unusual names I've heard. And made-up names don't count--I could make up a name easy enough but finding a real name and making it cool? That takes talent.
1. Q'Orianka Kilcher. This is probably the name that inspired this post as last weekend Andrew and I were at a black-tie benefit for the Alaska Native Health Consortium and the guest of honor was this beautiful young woman who starred with Colin Farrell in the movie New World (never saw it). She plays the more realistic version of Pocahontas (she was 14 when the movie was filmed--kind of a Olivia Hussey/Roman Polanski kind of thing) but after seeing her and hearing her name it's like not being able to get a tune out of my head. Q'Orianka . . . Q'Orianka . . . Q'Orianka . . .
It's pronounce corry-ahnka and she happens to also be Jewel's cousin (if you remember that blast from the past). Whatever. She has a fabulously unique and cool name and I've been saying it all weekend.
2. Traeger Machentanz. Normally I'd feel kind of funny about putting someone's real name up here in a post--at least someone who wasn't a celebrity--but I figure if you're in Wikipedia then you're fair game. If you're at all familiar with Alaskan artists then you'd recognize Fred Machentanz, who painted gorgeous oil paintings of the scenery and people of Alaska. Very famous.
Well his son is an attorney here in town and his name is just fabulous (Charles Traeger was an uncle). Having a name in iambic pentameter has got to be a real boost in life (well almost, he's missing a couple of feet but you get the idea).
3. Jamaica Kincaid. Okay this was a bit of a let-down because I always pictured this writer as a Caribbean beauty frolicking on the beaches as she wrote words on banana leaves in charcoal but it turns out her real name is Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson. Hmmm . . . not that exciting. No wonder she changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid--now THAT'S a power name for you and I love it. I know someone whose first name is Sonnet and it's paired with a strong Irish name like that and I just love the sound.
4. Eustacia Vye. Or almost any of Thomas Hardy's characters. Besides Eustacia there's Tamsin Yeobright, Bathsheba Everdene, Giles Winterbourne, Jude Fawley, Angel Clare, Lucette de Seour, Arabella Donn, the list goes on and on. Dickens had some great character names too--Uriah Heep and Mr. Micawber are gems. I find that the key to having a dramatic life is a really great name. Just ask Hero and Leander if it's not so. Or Daphnus and Chloe or Tristan and Isolde. Their lives wouldn't have been half so romantic or tragic without a great set of names. "Bob and Elaine" just isn't the same.
It probably helps too that I saw a version of Return of the Native done by the BBC where Catherine Zeta Jones plays Eustacia which produced the "Mel Gibson Effect." You get an unusual name paired with stunning good looks and *BAM* the name suddenly becomes cool and hip. My Dad, also named Mel, has been grateful to Mel Gibson for his help with the situation.
5. Heath Bannerman. If Andrew and I had had any more children I was determined that we would have had a boy and we would have named him Heath. Andrew's got great Scottish names in his family tree (we favor giving last names as middle names) and with the Bannerman family name in there plus "Heath" the kid would have been born with flaming red hair, a blue face and wielding a sword while crying "Freedom!" (Speaking of Mel Gibson). Not that that's really what we're aiming for but boy it sounds cool. Kind of like a Superhero name. Or am I thinking of Bruce Bannerman?
We almost named David Conrad. All through the pregnancy I really wanted to go with something different so it was going to be Conrad Ballantyne (another family name) partly because I knew a kid in high school named Conrad and he was so cool he went by "Rad." (Okay I'm laughing at that total 80s nerdness now but it was "awesome" at the time). But when my boy came out I looked at him and panicked. I lost my nerve and instead went with David. I kind of wish I'd stuck to Conrad now because there are a million Davids out there and Conrad is ripe for revival. Plus my son has to go by "David M" in school to keep him straight. That was me in the 70s with "Michelle." A million of us, and all with parents who loved the Beatles.
6. Demetria, Dominique and Gabrielle. My very favorite girls names. I really love old fashioned names like Eve, Rose, Ivy, Iris, Hazel, Vivian,Lydia, Julia, etc. and when I was little all my dolls were named Samantha and Amanda but if I was going for the drama and Va Va Voom it's these exotic foreign names all the way. Demetria--isn't that beautiful? I picture someone with flowing hair rather like Botticelli's Birth of Venus only dark. Yes I'd go far with a name like Demetria or Dominique. Or how about Athena? Or Evangeline? I love those too.
7. Dikembe Mutombo. Oh wow this is a great name. When you say it kind of low and repetitiously it sounds just like African drums. Or a six-foot-seven man pounding down the basektball court.
Dikembe Mutombo Dikembe Mutombo Dikembe Mutombo . . . though I looked it up and his real name is Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo. Hmmm . . . don't ask me how you get Dikembe from all that--how in the world did "Dick" come from "Richard"?
Gotta love a name that is onomatopoetic.
8. Stas. Alaska has quite a bit of Russian influence--it used to be part of Russian if you remember your history lessons--though there's more of the Russian culture in the southwestern parts of the state rather than Anchorage. Still, there are many Russian families, as is the case with David's best friend. His name is . . . get this . . . Stanislav. How cool is that?
I keep wanting to call him "My Little Comrad."
Anyway, he goes by Stas (rhymes with floss) and I think it's got to be the absolutely grandest name for a kid ever. Short, manly, unique, fun to say--it just doesn't get any better. I don't even know what his last name is--probably Raskolnikov which would just add to the mystique. I'm afraid to find out his name is "Herschenmeiler" or something like that.
9. Dorothy Day. That's my grandmother. She passed away from cancer about three months ago but one of the wonderful things about her is her maiden name (we named Lillian after her--Lillian Day). Grandma worked as a secretary during World War II on the air force base in California and I can picture her hanging out with the GIs in the hangers for the parties and dances they'd have as the men shipped out.
Anyway, on June 6, 1944 they named her the official Miss D-Day because . . . get it? Her name was Dorothy Day. Lillian was born on June 7th which barely missed being a fun coincidence--Grandma was even here when Lily was born. Anyway, grandma seemed to have an enormous collection of amazingly attractive young GIs hanging around back then so I can see why they named her that.
When I went through her scrapbook with her once there were half a dozen gorgeous guys who had sent her pictures and written her love notes--though about half had died in the war. Anyway, I love her name.
10. Usain Bolt. I keep wanting to ask if that's really his name--it's just too much of a coincidence. Kind of like Tiger "Woods"? I mean with a name like "Woods" he'd pretty much have to take up golfing. It would only be better if he were named Tiger Irons. I suppose I shouldn't get into cool sports names, that could be a whole post in an of itself with just the NFL alone. I must wait.
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