I love a good name. In high school, they were fairly easy to come by. There were Kastles and Jansons and of course the unlikely mashups like Kimberlynn and R-Pats. (OK, maybe that last one’s a lie, but it’s honestly not much of a stretch.) We did not, however, have a Petroswickonicovick Wandeckerkof da Silva Santos or a Creedence Clearwater Couto or a Colapso Cardíaco. But I didn’t grow up in Brazil, where, it turns out, names like these are surprisingly run-of-the-mill.
The recent trend in Brazil toward complex, America-pop-culture referencing and generally tongue-twistingly long names was highlighted in a highly entertaining story in Sunday’s New York Times.
Carrying an extraordinary name is remarkably widespread in Brazil. Glance at the Facebook timelines of Brazilian friends. Strike up a conversation at a Sunday afternoon barbecue. Or merely stand in line at a notary public and listen to a pencil-pusher call out the people waiting for documents to be stamped.
You will be awed by some of the names you hear.
Mike Tyson Schwarzenegger Pradella. Errolflynn Paixão. Charlingtonglaevionbeecheknavare dos Anjos Mendonça, a 31-year-old plumber who prefers to go by Chacha, melodically pronounced Sha-sha in Portuguese.
Wow! I’d go by Chacha, too. I can only imagine what the average roll call sounds like. It must take hours.
I think I’m pretty happy to stick with my six-letter-total name. But if we’re ever in Brazil together, you can call me Slothscuriosimol Amelie Gallinas Fionachai Arquotto.
P.S. The image above is from one of my favorite scenes from Season 2 of HBO’s Girls. Hannah writes this as the opening for her book to try to force herself out of writer’s block. It’s now my go-to reference for creative blocks. Oh, and there’s a T-Shirt.