Shakespeare once wrote “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I agree with the sentiment, so you can imagine my outrage when my husband made fun of an innocent question I asked. We were in a drive-through line to get coffee and I pointed to the car in front of us and asked him, “What kind of Honda is that?”
He very calmly replied, “That Honda is a Chevy.” And then laughed at me all the way home. But seriously, Honda, Chevy — they’re all cars, right? And I still don’t know what kind of car it was. (Well, he did tell me, it was a Trax or something like that, but that didn’t help me, since I’d never heard of it).
That very night, we were watching a talk show on television and one of the guests was an entertainer named Bada$$. Honestly, that’s his name. This whole concept of using symbols in your name to represent letters is somewhat strange, in my opinion. I guess it started with Prince, who began using an unpronounceable symbol to represent his name in 1993. All I could find out about the symbol was that it stood for “love” and was a blending of symbols representing male and female. Whatever the origin or meaning, it caused a stir. Ever since then, we’ve referred to him as “the artist” or “the artist formerly known as Prince.”
Then, in 2005, a young musician by the name of Kesha Rose Sebert who was finding popularity started calling herself Ke$ha.
This trend has become popular with musicians, especially rappers. We have Travi$ Scott, Too $hort, and Ca$h Out, all rappers who used symbols to represent a letter in their name. This group includes the character we discovered last week – Bada$$.
Symbols are not the only way to make a name different. Celebrities around the world have chosen unique, and sometimes disturbing, names for their offspring. We thought Moon Unit and Dweezil and Diva Muffin — the children of Frank Zappa — had odd names years ago. Then Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple and the gloves came off.
Nicholas Cage named his son Kal-el, which is the fictional Kryptonite name of the fictional superhero Superman. The amazing illusionist Penn Jillett named his children Moxie CrimeFighter and Zolten. Other unusual baby names from celebs include Rocket, Audio Science, Rainbow, and North. Yes, North — and that child was born to Kanye West, so his name is half of an Alfred Hitchcock classic.
So maybe symbols aren’t so strange. Then again, in 2014, Ke$ha sought treatment for an eating disorder and when she returned to the music-world, she dropped the stylized spelling, using Kesha Rose. But for nine years, she used a symbol in her name.
It seems like a strange fad, to me, but names are just arbitrary after all. As Shakespeare said, what’s in a name? An $ or an S, a Chevy or a Honda, or a rose….they’re just names. So maybe I should be $usie#?
Email me at email@example.com.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.