So last week when I was writing a lot about Yahoo! because Yahoo! is my homepage and what I was doing is called “mailing it in,” I started to get really angry with Yahoo! (as I am right now) because their name is officially “Yahoo!” and it’s really annoying to continually type an exclamation point, mostly due to the fact that my typing style is slightly unconventional. Don’t get me wrong, I can type a string of common, three letter words faster than anyone I know. But throw in an “z” or a “q” or in this case an exclamation point and it’s as though I enter an autistic state where I move my fingers very slowly in a deliberate effort to press the right keys.
Naturally, I got mad at Yahoo! for making the exclamation point part of their name. But then I got curious as to whether people were allowed to use punctuation when naming their children. Like if I wanted to name my daughter “Sarah!” or “Nicole.” or “Amber?” would I be allowed to do that? So I tried to do some research on the subject, but man research is hard! And all I could come up with is an excerpt from an article on adults applying for name changes in the courts:
“Racial slurs and ‘fighting words’ or obscenity are also banned, as are confusing names such as numbers and punctuation.”
Which makes sense, because how are you going to convince a judge that you have a good reason for wanting to be named “You’re A God-Damned Fascist!”? But how does that apply when you’re basically just writing the name in on a birth certificate? Who’s going to tell you “no,” the doctor?
Doctor: “You have a beautiful son, Mr. Murphy. Have you decided on a name yet?”
Me: “Yes, we have. It’s Cocksucker McGillicuty, 13.”
Doctor: “Uh, I don’t think you’re allowed to name your child that.”
Me: “Really? That’s weird because you’re a doctor and I’m his father. It would seem that naming him would be my thing, not yours.”
Doctor: “Uh, but Cocksu-“
Me: “Cocksucker McGillicuty, 13. No hyphen. Thanks.”
So I don’t think the same rules apply to babies as they do to adults trying to change their names. I worked for at least an hour to find some official laws and regulations on this and got so fed up with trying a vast array of Google search terms that at last I finally typed in “name baby ‘Shit’.” Now every time I type an “n” into my Google search bar and I see “name baby ‘Shit’ ” on the list of saved searches I laugh, which is great because in this sad world laughter is all we have – but I still have no concrete answers. So the first person to provide me with some kind of actual law on this will get a reward. No, scratch that. Not a reward. That sounds too much like money or something valuable. They will get a prize* to be determined upon the deciding of a winner. Good luck everyone!
* Please note that prize will be at my discretion and will likely be worthless in both monetary and inherent value. Prizes are not limited to physical objects and can include such items as “a sense of accomplishment,” “the knowledge that you have made me happy,” and “being informed.” Also, when I name my first born son “Shoehorn Molasses Murphy” and he becomes of age to know that he is different and he cries and complains that it’s not fair and that I had no right to do that to him, I will specifically mention the winner of this contest in reinforcing the notion that I did, in fact, have the right to do it.
WELL it was a tough call because everyone failed equally well, but I think I at least have a better understanding of how our nation operates when it comes to naming children, specifically that no one knows shit because no one has had the balls to challenge the system and name their child “Pancakes!”
While Viscountess came close with “a mother . . . can give the kid "any surname she wants" to,” I have to think that that is oversimplifying things, because it doesn’t define what constitutes a surname. And Vokdardt seemed to do the most research, although their extensive efforts were unfortunately in the field of “name changing” not “baby naming.” So that kind of sucks. But thanks anyway. The person who came the closest to being helpful was a mysterious woman named Emma who sent my an article from the online legal database Lexis-Nexis with the following text:
"You must use the 26-letter alphabet; however, no punctuation except imbedded hyphens and apostrophes is permitted," says Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. In addition, you cannot use symbols, diacriticals or numbers in the name.”
I think it’s clear that this baby-naming business if a state governed affair, meaning this only applies in Texas, but it’s at least got some specific information provided by a reliable source, and that’s good enough for me.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an email address for Emma because she used the Lexis-Nexis automatic print delivery service to send it (how advanced!) so unless I hear from her within the next hour the prize will have to be forfeited. And by “forfeited” I mean “gone,” because the prize was a turkey sandwich, but I’m really hungry and it’s like 100 degrees out so I don’t want to go buy another one. In any event, though, I think we’re all winners here, because we learned something – not just about naming babies, but about helping and sharing.