There’s something about JoJo

I often thought my life would have turned out different if my parents named me something with a little flair, like Gaga or 50 Cent or Sting — I would have even settled for Stung or 10 Cent. The name “Joe” just seemed so commonplace.

If they called me Brad, I could have been a movie star, or Hugh and I could have been a playboy, J-Rod, a pro ballplayer, or Barack, a world leader. Instead, I got the most common name in the world, so overused it inspired GI Joe, Joe Blow, Average Joe, Ordinary Joe and cup of Joe.

What were my parents thinking? I suppose they wanted to carry on the family tradition because my father was Joe and my mother was Josephine. Even worse, when I was a kid, they didn’t have the good sense to call me Joe Jr. or Joey or Little Joe but rather — I hate to admit — JoJo, like that monkey on TV.

As an adult, I considered adopting a pretentious attitude and calling myself Josef or Giuseppe, but it didn’t feel right so I accepted my destiny as an ordinary guy.

Then, the name Joe fell out of fashion for years, until recently. According to the Social Security Administration, Joseph is high on the list of the top 1,000 baby names, at number 20.

Even more amazing is the popularity of biblical names, including Jacob, which has been the first choice for 12 years, followed by Michael, Noah, Daniel, Joshua, Christopher, Andrew, David, Matthew, Elijah and James.

With girls, Isabella was the premier name, followed by Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Madison and Chloe.

In our celebrity-crazed culture, parents often name their kids after TV characters or comic book heroes, which explains why two popular choices are Maci and Bentley, in deference to the American icons in the reality TV show “16 and Pregnant.” For the first time since 1954, Elvis is out.

With celebrities, the outré is fashionable, and they christen their kids with names that are downright dumb and then have their family portraits on the cover of People magazine.

Mariah Carey named her son Moroccan after a room in her home decorated like North Africa and her daughter Monroe in honor of Marilyn Monroe.

John Mellencamp saddled his son with Spec Wildhorse; Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter is Apple; Tea Leoni’s daughter is Kyd; Jermaine Jackson’s son is Jermajesty; Nicholas Cage’s son is Kal-el, (the Krypton name of Superman) and Jason Lee’s son is Pilot Inspektor.

In European countries, wacky names like that are outlawed so kids won’t suffer psychic damage because of stupid parents, which makes me wonder why Congress isn’t championing this cause instead of wasting time on the national debt.

Eventually, I came to terms with my name after reading about my biblical namesakes — Joseph, the son of Jacob, who saved his people from famine, and St. Joseph, stepfather of Jesus, who the evangelists said was a “just man.” Trying to be a just man is better, I suppose, than getting on the cover of People.


Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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