Ashley Madison: What’s in a name?

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What’s in a name?

That depends on whether or not you signed your real one on Ashley Madison, the now-hacked website for wannabe cheaters.

The whole Ashley Madison story cracks me up, mainly due to the name.  It is brilliant.  How much traffic do you think they’d be getting if they had named the site “Ethyl Gertrude”?  No – as soon as you hear the name, your subconscious starts thinking of lovely young 20 or 30 year olds.  Wanting to have sex.  With you.  Because 20 and 30 year olds named Ashley (or Ashleigh or Ash-Lee) and/or Madison are dying to get with older married men who drive Hyundais and are bored with their lives (and wives).  The fact that 60% of the Ashleys and the Madisons are actually chat bots shouldn’t deter customers one bit.  I’m thinking they’d have a better shot with the chatbot.

This started me thinking about the power of names.  I have a good friend from my childhood days in San Diego who has managed to resist all trends in naming, and stuck with what I see as classic, timeless, strong names that can last a life time.  Names her own children have dubbed “Little House on the Prairie Names”.  This is because her children (Mary, Elizabeth, Emma, and John) have friends named Sequoia (good for a tree) and Starlette (good for a stripper).  Now, far be it from me to judge others (cough cough), but come on, people!  When you name your daughter “Summer Sunshine”, aren’t you saying to her “We’re pretty sure you’ll never be on the Supreme Court”?

Of course, some of the more egregious names found in San Diego would pale in comparison to those given to Dominican and Puerto Rican children.  Why not try Lewinsky on for size?  No, not as a last name.  And yes, for a girl.  You can’t swing a cat in my neighborhood without smacking a  Yatulka, Mazurka, Yanelka, Nuyolka, Matilka, or Old-land-jolly.  Old-land-jolly is my favorite.

My own extended family, ensconced as they are in the wilder bits of the western US, favor names inspired by the commodities and consumer products sector: Silver, Gold, Suede and Ribbon.  Weather phenomenon are moving up in popularity (Misty, Sunny, Rainbow.. less so for Foggy or Overcast). Local towns are up for grabs, too (Frisco, Roswell, Pinebush, Bathesda).  The trend for strange and unique names is hardly a recent trend, either.  I’ve got  ancestors named things like You-la, Melba, Eulalia, Ollie-Mae, Lucifer, and Dellis.  Hubert – now that’s a name you don’t see much anymore.

It’s probably a mixed blessing to have a name that is unique and google-able.  Think of all those Jim Johnsons and Ann Smiths, or people whose parents were funny and named them Rose Bush or Dick Trickle (yes, he was a real person), Brook Lynn Bridge, or Moe Lester.  Some of them would probably be happy to be called Rainbow Pinebush.


Anyway, here’s a short history lesson of names, at least in my neck of the woods.

In the beginning, there were the Lilys and the Roses.

The Lilys and the Roses begat the Ethyls and the Myrtles.

the Ethyls and the Myrtles begat the Florences, the Minnies, and the Dorothys

The Florences, the Minnies, and the Dorothys begat the Betties and the Madges

The Betties and the Madges begat the Suzies and the Sherries, the Debbies and the Terries.

The Suzies and the Sherries, the Debbies and the Terries begat the Jennifers.

And the Jennifers were fruitful, and did multiply upon the land.

And the Jennifers begat the Cortneys and the Whitneys, the Lindsays and the Britneys.

The Cortneys and the Whitneys, the Lindsays and the Britneys begat the Taylors and the Tylers.

And, based on the best demographic projections for the year 2016, the Taylors and the Tylers will soon begat the Lilys and the Roses.

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8 comments

  1. you forgot isabel and all her spawn: , Bella, ella, and izzy.. For the guys everything is springing up Jackson, Jaxon, Jacks and etc.

    I work in a preschool and I know.

  2. I will name my next dog Ollie-Mae. Fabulous name! Thanks for the suggestion. As a side note, I love watching women usurp men’s names (they same way we’ve usurped their careers). First Ashley, LIndsay, Morgan and Madison, now Jordan and Tyler. Hunter on the horizon. Back in the Bronx, in the 50s, there was a girl named Hedda Hare.

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