Growing-up in white-bread Middle America, the child of black-bread-eating German refugees, I wanted a plain name. And so, on the first day of fourth grade I told my teacher that I used my middle name, Ruth. Since I was horribly shy, I never answered to it (or probably to any name) and so she figured out pretty quickly that wasn’t the case and Monica I still was. My parents meant well; they just wanted to give me an interesting name. Today Monicas are ubiquitous and far more interesting names are the norm. See John Tierney’s article, “Bad Baby Names – A Boy Named Sue, and a Theory of Names” for more on this business of names.
I immediately welcomed the Boy Named Sue paradigm, although I realized that I might be biased by my middle name (Marion). Cash and his ambiguously named male collaborator, the lyricist Shel Silverstein, could offer only anecdotal evidence against decades of research suggesting that children with weird names were destined for places like San Quentin.