I have always liked John Mellencamp’s music. I liked it because it felt to me like music for the common man and woman. And that was Mellencamp’s presentation of self as well in press, concerts, and music videos – a guy just like us telling the stories of our lives. He seemed down-to-earth, genuine, and sensible.
But folks, after reading a story about two of Mellencamp’s sons who were charged with felony battery about a week ago, I have to question my assumptions about his sensibilities. My questioning does not come from his sons’ alleged behavior – although it is concerning to hear about such violent behavior. My questioning comes from the names of his two sons that were involved in the incident – Hud and Speck. Huh???
At first I thought that those were surely cute family nicknames that the boys had garnered as toddlers, but not so. Those are their names. Those were the names they were charged under – Hud and Speck Mellencamp.
What in the world was John Mellancamp thinking when he named those boys? Didn’t he ever hear that song by Johnny Cash called a Boy Named Sue? Life can’t be made any easier when your name is Hud or Speck.
I don’t get some of these really different names folks pick out these days. I wonder if they think it through. Do they imagine how the name will be received by their child’s classmates? Do they think about how that name will feel to their child when he or she hits adulthood, or middle age, or old age? I often wonder what level of push-back kids with some of these truly different names give their parents as they grow older.
I remember the names of Frank Zappa’s kids – Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva – but not in a good way. Was he trying to be funny when he named them – especially Moon Unit? Or was he just high?
Now, I realize that sooner or later the traditional names of yore – Richard, Robert, Abigail, Gertrude, Elizabeth, etc. – will come to be back in vogue. In the meantime who knows what will capture the imagination of new parents. It could just be that before long we will have Huds and Specks in every classroom across America. Perhaps then a boy named Sue will fit right in.
Day one thousand five hundred and eight of the new forty – obla di obla da