I like to mentally rate names on an "Interesting Name Scale" from 0 to 10. A name like Bob Smith rates a big fat zero. There is absolutely nothing interesting to me about a name like Bob Smith. It blends in and gets ignored, at least here in America. I'd say most of us have a name around 4 on the scale. If you do "the hyphen thing" when you get married, or name your children, that will likely move your rating up a number or two. At one point I had a coworker whose last name was Karen Prettyontop. Now that's an original last name. She was Native American, and, I assume, it was a family name given to her at birth. I was sad when she got married and her last name changed to Martin. Her name fell on my rating scale from about an 8 to about a 4. She didn't seem to mind the name change. When I recently told another friend about the name (they didn't know each other), she remarked, "Prettyontop sounds like a stripper name." I never thought of it that way, so maybe I can understand how Karen didn't mind the change.
Names that get top scores on my Interesting Name Scale are the ones that people make up for themselves and really use. In 1994, a 17-year old named Peter Eastman, Jr. (ranks about a 3 or 4) changed his name to the title of his favorite book. His full legal name is now Trout Fishing In America. Wow. Give that boy a 10. He goes by "Trout". I heard another one the other day that blew my mind. A friend of mine has a friend whose name was Jerry Williams. Pretty boring. Ranks maybe a 2 or 3. He changed his name to "Jerry!". No, I didn't just mess up my punctuation. That's Jerry with an exclamation mark and no last name. Unfortunately he wasn't able to make it legal, as punctuation isn't allowed in official names, but that's how he signs his name. Give him a 10!
But are we really more creative in names than chimps? I wonder if chimps have names for each other that we just aren't aware of. Maybe a chimp was given the name of "Ooh Ohh Ahh" by his mom, but has now changed his name to "Ooh!" How would we ever know?
What names have you heard of that would rate high on the scale?