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What's in a Name? Al names his kids.

Column: The Other Side Of The CD

by Al Santiago

Titles and names are very important in eye and/or for ear appeal. Abbie Hoffman's book entitled Steal This Book certainly made you think before you opened it. Desi Arnaz's book The Book made you wonder if the title lacked imagination or was it, in fact, imaginative. Ricardo Marrero's upcoming CD compilation is titled Variety or Varidades. At first, it hits you as too common a title, but, after hearing it, you have to admit the title is super apropos.

My four children, who today are all manganzones, are from 35 to 43 years old. Their names are a story in itself. My oldest daughter I named Melody, and, as far as I knew, she was the only Melody in her day. Years later I became aware that Martha "Big Mouth" Raye had named her daughter Melody, also. Over the years the name Melody has been sprinkled here and there.

When daughter #2 was about to appear wife #1 told me, "And don't think I'm going to let you name her Harmony, no more music names for this family." I decided to be uncharacteristically deceitful and eventually told her a tale along these lines, "We have names like Rose, Daisy, Violet, etc. Why not name her Orchid?" After a short interval, wife #1 said, "OK, why not? It is an original." Daughter #2 may still be the only Orchid on the planet. It did cause her some pluses and minuses. In high school she was called Ork, Orkie, Orchard, Archichonia, and even Squid. This was not a pleasant time for her, but then young guys hitting on her called her Orquidia and this she liked. Eventually, she wrote me a letter in her late teens to tell me that she had finally realized that I had, in my mind, named her Orchestra, not Orchid.

My third offspring was a male. Like all his siblings, he was born in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in upper Manhattan in New York City. I remember fainting when told in the maternity ward that wife #1 had given birth to another female. It was an error on the nurse's part. She asked me my name and looked it up without realizing that there were two Santiagos on the list. After my fainting spell, the nurse asked me, "Don't you like girls?" I answered, "Yeah, but I already have two of those." After getting my full name, it was straightened out and I was told, "Yes, you have a boy." Visiting wife #1, I was told, "I'm naming the boy, you've already named the girls." Oh, my gosh! I could project the names: John, Peter, Robert, David, Henry and the like. I decided that to win this round, I had to be more than deceitful, I had to lie. So I did. I convinced wife #1 that Cliff was a good name, not overused and very masculine. She agreed and I volunteered to go and fill out the papers. What I didn't tell her was that instead of registering the name Cliff, I wrote down Clef as in the musical G clef. Well, Clef had a rough time with his teachers all through school. He was always being told that his parents didn't know how to spell, etc.

My fourth child was also a baby boy and I had already been told, "You are not, under any circumstances, to name our fourth." I did name him, and it took only a little deceit. I told wife #1 that I knew she was to name boy #2, but that I did not think that she would object to a few suggestions from me. She agreed, so I gave her a list of ten names and one name struck a chord with her. She liked the name Duane, so it was decided that Duane it was. About a week later, we were all home and wife #1 was browsing through magazines when she got up yelling and throwing things and calling me nasty things. That's when I realized she had seen Billboard or Cashbox or some other music magazine and had read that the guitar player of 1959 was Duane Eddy. Although my fourth was named Duane, he was called Butch, and although my third was named Clef, he was called Buster. The day wife #1 realized I had given her a list of ten Grammy winners, my name was S.O.B.

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