No Sex For You: 5 WTF Drawbacks Of Having A Weird Name
As a first-generation American, raised by immigrants, I spend every day interacting with people who mispronounce or misspell my name in ways so mind-boggling that I settled on the basic, Americanized pseudonym "Archie Grimm." That way, you can actually read my articles without having your cognitive functions scrambled by the sight of my non-Anglo Saxon real name. And also because my immigrant parents would murder me if they found out I write jokes on the internet. That stereotype is extremely true.
When your name is "different," even something as small as meeting people can quickly become a painful experience. Having an unusual name has some unforeseen consequences that make life a little bit more challenging than the Stevens and Jessicas out there can imagine. For instance ...
You'll Never Find A Coke Bottle With Your Name On It
To the person who first came up with the idea of selling products with names on them: You can go fuck yourself. For years, I've been watching the Chads of the world take a selfie with a soda that says, "Share a drink with Chad" while Chad smirks like a privileged asshole who fully expected to find his name among the soda selection of any given convenience store. Chad, you and your Coke can fuck straight off a cliff.
They'll never have my name but they'll have all 1,487 possible spellings of Amy.
I know I'll never find a Coke with my name on it, which makes that ad campaign just a little bit annoying. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not just picking on Coke, here. Remember when you were a kid and wanted a bicycle license plate with your name on it? I do. Every kid in my neighborhood had one of those. But not me, because my real name makes me a freak of nature. Growing up in the U.S. while raised by immigrants, trying to absorb two different cultures at the same time, is hard enough ... but then companies roll out these awesome, specialized products, and I just have to stand there in a fog of sadness. Do you know what that's like as a kid, having that realization? It sucks. There's probably a more eloquent way to put it, but that about sums it up.
Coca-Cola has done their best to cater to immigrant populations throughout America by releasing small batches of ethnically named bottles, mostly in Latin American communities. But I won't be impressed until I open the fridge door at the 7-Eleven and find a Coke bottle with a name that looks like it could belong to an H.P. Lovecraft monster, but is actually the name of like four of my mom's cousins.
Introducing Yourself Is Like Walking Into A Minefield Of Social Awkwardness
I don't think you really understand what I'm saying here, Becky: this is every day, all the time. There will be no end to it, but there is a beginning -- a basic introduction of one human (me, the weirdly named freak) to another (Chad Smith, the asshole who has no idea how good he has it).
In my many years on this earth, I have rarely had a moment where someone heard my name for the first time, pronounced it correctly to my face, and then never spoke to me about the matter again. What usually happens is I have to smile politely while I recreate the goddamn Electric Company "Silhouette Blends" sketch while breaking my name down to basic guttural sounds that their brains can comprehend.
There have been moments so frustrating that I thought about telling people to forget it and just call me the first English name they can think of. I will gladly be a Jonathan to this person for the rest of my life if it means the horror of this moment can die forever.
Being saddled with Jonathan would be a better outcome than what usually happens: People give up trying to pronounce my name and give me an insulting nickname instead, sometimes based on a physical characteristic. Other times, it will carry a xenophobic connotation, as you'd be surprised how quickly a person can go from zero to racist for no reason at all, with someone they just met. All of that because they never learned to pronounce phonetically.
This shit's for you.
Don't call me "Dimples" because you'd rather refer to the dents in my cheeks than the name my parents gave me. If we've just met and therefore don't have an established friendship, you don't get to decide what to call me, especially after only halfheartedly making an attempt at my name once. If I don't offer you an alternative upon our first meeting ("Hi, my name's Zlazlaxjasss4x, but everybody calls me Stinky McGee") then just call me by the name I was given at birth, like every other person in the room.
Your Name Could Be The Reason Why You Can't Find a Job
Fun fact: Hiring managers sometimes throw out resumes that have names that sound too "foreign" for their liking. They're willing to lose out on a viable candidate just cause of good ol' racism. If this fills you with horror (and I sure hope it does, Bobby and Susie), just know that these companies aggressively deny that they're being prejudiced. Sometimes, they do it for the good of the clients, as a hotel owner in New Mexico once did when he ordered a group of Hispanic employees to change their names to something more Anglo Saxon to sound more appealing to customers. "I am not a racist," he was quick to point out. Oh, okay. For a second there, I thought you making people deny their heritage so they can seem less foreign to total strangers was racist. My bad.
"I'd like you to meet my Colombian sons, Tyler and Chase."
There's also the story of Jose Zamora, who sent out up to 100 resumes a day during a long, grueling job search, and didn't hear a peep from anyone until he dropped the "S" and submitted applications as Joe Zamora. His inbox exploded with interview offers by nixing a single letter, and his identity along with it.
And don't for a second think that this is exclusive to America. There was once a guy by the name of Wang Lai Ming. He doesn't exist anymore. He now goes by the more Anglo name Terence King because changing it to something that sounded less ethnic was the only way he was able to get a job after being rejected time and again across two continents for a position that he was more than qualified for.
So if you're having a hard time finding a job because your qualifications aren't up to snuff or you're lacking some experience, be thankful that at least you're not fighting the Sisyphean battle of an overqualified minority who has to whitewash their ethnicity just so people won't be revolted by the sight of their name on a resume and then shout "Kobe!" as they toss it in the trash.
Your Name Could Also Be The Reason You're Single
Here's another fun fact: Attraction is somewhat dimmed if you spend too much time worrying if you're pronouncing the other person's name right, especially when you're trying to focus on other things. Sexy things. Freaky things. Do you really need me to say it, Karen? SEX. I'M TALKING ABOUT SEX, KAREN.
And it's not just about how stumbling through someone's name as you try to call it out in the heat of passion kind of dims the mood. Right now, the go-to way to meet someone is with dating apps and websites, where people with the "funkiest" names are the least likely to get swiped or dinged or however the hell those things work. Location and diversity of said location is a factor, but generally, people tend to choose the suitors whose names look the most familiar. Sexual attraction and similar interests be damned. It must be like when you give up the hours-long search for something new to watch on Netflix, bypass a dozen movies and shows that align perfectly with your tastes and interests, and just watch an entire season of Parks And Recreation for the fourth time.
Maybe if your name wasn't Roofie Scumbag, you'd have better luck.
People stick to what they know, even if it means shunning a perfectly good set of genitals attached to a good person who happens to have a non-traditional name. A timeline where two people live a long and happy life of wedded bliss could be obliterated because one of them saw a Pakistani name and swiped that alternate reality of love and devotion straight to Hell.
Your Parents Will Never Understand
Alright Rick, let's imagine America really did get into the shit with North Korea. For safety's sake, you grabbed your wife and immigrated to, say, Japan, which, admittedly, wouldn't be the best place considering the situation, but let's run with it. If your kids are born in Japan, are you really going to name them Usagi and Mamoru? No. You'll probably keep the naming customs you'd grown accustom to back home.
From their perspective, my parents have done nothing strange or out of the ordinary. As a young married couple, they fled to this country as refugees and were forced to make a new life here, without knowing the language or customs. That's a difficult thing to do. They struggled through something I can't even fathom, and yet they made it. They survived. To contrast, right before I typed that sentence I almost had a psychological meltdown because the Starbucks barista almost forgot the foam in my latte. Even though my parents can speak English now, giving their children traditional names is for them a bittersweet callback to their past; a way to stay connected to a country they love but may never revisit.
"We brought you here so you can be free. But first, let us shackle you to this insane name."
Imagine having to tell your mom and dad that you had to erase one of the most meaningful gifts they'd given you just so you can get laid. The holiday dinner table arguments would be spectacular. There'd be no survivors.
So where does that leave me? Well, I'm not changing my name. I can only ask the people who encounter the weirdly-named people in their life to just be cool. Being unique is a wonderful thing, but you don't know how much of a relief it might be for someone if you don't point out the thing that stands out the most about them. They might be sensitive to it, so just watch out for it is all. No big deal, right? Cool.
Oh, and never tell me my name is "exotic." Toucans are exotic. I'm not a fucking toucan.
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