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The drawbacks of an unusual name

September 21, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
How would you like to go to school with a name like Boheme Shalom or Reverie Lux?

These are the names a blogger called Rebecca Woolf gave her twin daughters earlier this fall. The girls are the younger sisters of a boy named Archer Sage and a girl named Fable Luella.

By themselves, I think Boheme and Reverie are pretty words. Boheme brings to mind the opera "La Boheme" and the bohemian life and Reverie is a pretty French word for a daydream. The middle names have meaning as well, with Shalom meaning "peace" and Lux meaning "light." Woolf, whose blog is called "Girls Gone Child," and her progeny live in California, where maybe the names won't stand out quite so much. After all, California is home to Hollywood children with names like Audio Science, son of actress Shannyn Sossamon, and Apple, daugher of actress Gwyneth Paltrow. I'd assume that more people there might know that "Boheme" should be pronounced "Bo-EM" as in the opera.

I've always enjoyed unusual names and stories about why people picked them. I've amassed a large collection of such names over the years I've been a reporter and I do remember the unusual names (Bard, Blythe, Spring, Sparrow, Phaedra, Python Grip) more clearly than I do the vast army of Emilys and Katies, Matts and Ryans. And I dare anyone to forget Boheme and Reverie or Sparrow or Python Grip once they've met them.

Of course, that could have its drawbacks. A name that stands out could be a plus when Boheme is applying to Harvard, but be a real bummer if she's one day arrested for underage drinking and her distinctive name appears in the local paper's police blotter.

On the whole, I'd find it easier to have a name as common as mine. Yes, there's always a chance of mistaken identity and there are a fair number of Andrea Johnsons in western North Dakota who have run into trouble with credit agencies or with local law enforcement. But if you see Andrea Johnson's name in the police blotter, you aren't going to automatically assume it's me (and it's not.) Maybe Boheme and Reverie will feel the same way and change their names to Emily and Katie someday.


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