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  • D. Randall Faro

Identify Yourself

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” So penned the bard, William Shakespeare. Notwithstanding the odor, names foster images, some pleasant, some not so much. Consider the following real-life names.

Stefan W. Hell – Romanian chemist and 2014 Nobel Prize winner. Telling someone to go

to Hell in his laboratory might result in a delightful encounter.

Esther Dixon Spinster - England. Don’t tell anyone she’s married with six children. d if one is needed.

Esther Dixon Spinster - England. Don’t tell anyone she’s married with six children.

Douglas Neville Daft - Australian businessman. Maybe he didn’t make his fortune by being smart.

Frances Crook – British prison reformer. A name like this is almost criminal.


Then there are people who, for whatever reason, decide to change their name.


Issur Danielovitch. Better known as Kirk Douglas.

Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra. John Q. Public knows her as Meg Ryan.

Born Eric Marlon Bishop, he goes today by Jamie Foxx.

His parents named him Thomas Mapother IV. Now he’s the one and only Tom Cruise.

Caryn Elaine Johnson. You know her as Whoopi Goldberg.

Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He plinks the keyboard as Elton John.

Names are quintessentially personal. People keep them or change them for individual reasons. Take the surname Shit. You might think the bearer would want to change it . . . unless one lived in India where it is the surname for over 80,000 people. When a 13-pound baby was born in Winterset, Iowa, in 1907, mom and dad named him Marion Robert Morrison. That remained the legal name of John Wayne all his life, but you might have had to Duke it out with him to try and force its use.


An ancient Hebrew proverb states: a good name is more desirable than great riches. Whether your name is as unique as Engelbert Humperdinck (a change from his birth name) or as plain-Jane as Bob Adams, the key is to live such a life that people think of one’s name as a good name. By my lights, that means a name that engenders thoughts of a person who is loving, compassionate, honest, and inclusive of all others. Even with the surname Shit, the bearer can smell as sweet as a rose.


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