Shouldn't We All Have Just One Name

madonnaI’ve been thinking about famous people with only one name of late. princeMadonna, of course, and Prince too. You tend to think that they started the most recent celebrity predilection for single word monikers, but upon reflection, there have been many famous people who favored the single name.

Liberace comes to mind, and his name also made me realize that the true test of whether someone deserves their one name status is if you can supply their real name. The best example of this test would be Oprah. Sure, we all know her by that one name, but we also know without much head scratching that her last name is Winfrey. What’s Liberace’s last name? I rest my case. We know Cher, but we also knew her as Cher Bono. Everyone seems to know Britney (could be the whole lack of underwear thing), but we also know the last name is timbalandSpears. Don’t even get me started on Paris of hotel fame. Then there are the combos like Brangelina and TomKat, but we know all their last names only too well.

With the bumper crop of rap stars and pop singers adapting the one nametwiggy fad, you can have your pick of Timbaland, 50 Cent (pronounced interesting story all by itself), Jewel, Eminem, Sting, Pink, Seal, Moby, and Beyonce. But just when I think it’s a new school thing, I remember there was Charo, Fernandel, Voltaire, Divine (I couldn’t resist putting a famous transvestite after the great defender of civil liberties), Twiggy, Christo, Weegee, Cantinflas, Yanni, Capucine, and Pele, to name just a few.

mosesTo go even further back in time, I need only mention one name -- Moses. It may not have the panache of Zorro, but everyone knows Moses (a phrase that suggest a spinoff possibility for Everyone Loves Raymond). How about Cain and Abel? Or Hercules, Aristotle, and Plato?aristotle

So if it’s good enough for the great ones, why not for baby boomers? Let’s have our moment in the spotlight. Pick a name for yourself, whatever you like. Get radical, it’s your last chance to be as free as you want to be. But be careful what you wish for, as the saying goes, it may come true. My wife asked me what name I would pick for myself, and my response was, “Hmmm.” Long story short, she now calls me Hmmm.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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