Unusual Names – Pros and Cons

Here are two very different views on unusual names — both from women who know a lot about the topic.

Bluzette and Open Weaver Banks were featured in a CNN article on the pros and cons of unusual names a few years back. Here’s what Bluzette wrote for CNN iReport:

My parents named me after a great instrumental jazz song. When I was born, my mother didn’t know how to spell it but knew she wanted to name me Bluzette. The original spelling of the song is “Bluesette”. It’s an up tempo jazz waltz written by Jean “Toots” Thielemans. He is from Belgium. I was fortunate to meet him years ago and he told me he wrote it on a pier in France and said it had a little bit of blues in the melody so he called it “Bluesette” meaning just that.

A few years later Mel Torme and Norman Gimbel put words to the music and fortunately for me, it was a song about a girl named “Bluesette”. I always say, it could’ve been about a boat, and I would still be “Bluzette”.

For many years, I resented the name as my older brother and his friends were cruel as most kids are, but as life went on I learned to appreciate it more and more. When I was young I remember having to know how I got my name and be able to spout out the story at any given moment. I truly believe unusual and unique names build character at a young age. When you are eight years old and your friend’s mother asks you how you got such an unusual name, you must be ready with an answer. I was communicating my story at a young age and now appreciate how important it was in my development as a strong, confident woman in life.

I lost my mother two years ago and she always called me “Bluzey”. Now I sport vanity plates on my car that say just that.

I will say that at times for the sake of avoiding an uncomfortable conversation or throwing someone off guard I answer to the names of “Mary” or “Kelly”. For instance, at a restaurant like Panera Bread or Papa Murphy’s when they ask your name to be more friendly, Mary is just easier. The thought of putting an employee through the pain of guessing how to spell and pronounce Bluzette just isn’t worth it to me.

That’s my story and it’s a constant conversation but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

(Interesting how she uses a restaurant name.)

Here’s what Open Weaver Banks had to say:

Like everyone else with a unique name, I can’t imagine one worse than my own. My full name on my birth certificate is Open Weaver. My married name is Open Weaver Banks. I have a hard time using my credit cards for personal items because clerks will accuse me of using a business card. I have problems with airline tickets and any type of registration where people think that my name must be a typo and I become an “Owen.” I cannot tell my name to someone without having to explain it. Some days it is exhausting and I can’t even disguise the annoyance in my voice. Even my husband says he tires of explaining it to colleagues every time he mentions my name in conversation.

This is now, when it is really just an inconvenience. Childhood was painful. I still give my mother a hard time about the name choice and she tries to explain that she was young, she liked how it sounded, it was 1970, and various other reasons. Then she asks why I don’t change it if I hate it so much. I actually tried going by another name for a year and I realized that as much as I truly hate my name, it is embedded in me and so much a part of my experience. I felt like I was keeping a dark secret and people couldn’t truly know me if they didn’t know that part of me. So I went back to “Open.”

The point I think people need to realize when they are naming their children is that unique is wonderful, but it can also be a burden when it crosses a line and subjects children to ridicule or makes getting through the average day difficult because of the number of times you have to explain it or spell it. And parents cannot predict their children’s personalities or futures. So while “Open” might have been great if I had grown up to be an artist and moved in more “open-minded” circles, it is not so great for a 37 year old attorney who sometimes would just like to be taken seriously when I introduce myself, rather than have to explain for the umpteenth time “My mother just liked the way it sounded.”

For those of you with unusual names: Whose experiences/opinions are most like your own? Or are you somewhere between the two?

Source: Hanks, Henry. “Your parents named you what? The pros, cons of unusual names.” CNN 1 Aug. 2008. (Via Genealogue.)

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