Why do words lend themselves, at times, with associations totally removed from reality? You would never associate Kipfler with a potato; yet, I have no trouble in accepting he could have been a composer born in Leipzig, 1862. His mother thought he was a dear little boy and even at the age of two he already showed great promise when he started banging on his Blechtrommel. (Tin drum).
Gunter Grass has a timbre to his name that can only ever be associated with being a writer of words in a certain order. He wrote the Tin Drum. You would be hard pushed to respect a writer called ‘Essenfrescher’, would you? Perhaps this is why in the world of the famous, especially movie-stars, names are sometimes perceived as hindering fame and are changed to a more appropriate sounding pseudo. I mean Boris Karloff could never have gotten there if he was called by his real name of William Pratt or Dean Martin as Dino Crocetti, Doris Day as Doris Kappelhoff.
Names can be fluid or grindingly rasping with associations far removed from what they stand for or are. I mean, I don’t think there are many still called Hitler. The telephone book in Germany or Austria reveals not a single person named Hitler anymore. Apparently his father did not like the sound of Schicklgruber and preferred Hitler. Even the name Schicklgruber is now rare, as is Goebbels etc.
So, what to make of words and names? Why is a name change perceived to add to possible achievements. If Bach was called Kohlrabi, would his music have found less acceptance? Who was it again with, “what’s in a name?” or, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare was destined to write brilliantly with a name like that. Mozart-Concert is so symbiotic in name. It had to happen.
Would Villa Lobos have written Bachianas if named Gauncho Pistachio? Who knows?
However, after my nonsense, what seems that what ‘is’ counts most and not the given name. Hmm, I am not so sure.
I went to get my hair cut last week and when I was asked how I want it cut, I said to the girl; “I would like to look a bit more like Justin Bieber”. “Can you do that?” Why? She said, a bit bewildered looking. Much to H’s embarrassment, I sometimes act stupidly convincing. I made it worse by saying; “I want to be mobbed by teen-age girls again”.
( I was only ever shunned by teenage girls) I then realized that my joke didn’t get traction and I recanted somewhat by saying. “Only joking”, “please cut it any way you like, perhaps as it was eight weeks ago’.” “ Please, go for it, you cut so well,” I smarmed while surrendering totally to her comb and scissors.
She took her revenge at the end of the cut by asking very loudly; “what about your eyebrows, shall I trim them ‘somewhat”. The sting was in the ‘somewhat’ indicating my eyebrows were so verdantly overgrown it was more in need of weed-killer. Ah, old age is advancing especially in ear hairs and brows. It made me repent my Bieber remark. For days I was sulking over it. H reckoned it served me right and was secretly gloating.
Even so, Justin Bieber’s name wasn’t a hindrance to his genius, was it? Mind you his fame might well be waning. He was booed a couple of nights ago. Those sort of fames based on talent quests are so fickle, they come and go like falling stars, they light the scene for a second and fall spectacularly down into darkness to be forgotten forever.
Still, I sometimes secretly wish for a light mobbing by hordes of screaming teenage girls, after all those years. Grow up Mr Oosterman, your eyebrows are showing. Keep clinging to your wreckage.