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Sometimes it really is all about the name

Cookie Hogan. What a name! It rings sentimental of the adventurous heroine of my girlhood, Pippy Longstockings. Cookie Hogan should never have lived her life as an average kid in the burbs of Savannah.

With a name like that, she should have traveled the wilds of South America in a 40-foot river boat, which she paddled up stream by herself, visiting primitive peoples wearing index finger bones through their noses, riding Shetland ponies, and offering her shrunken wild boar heads as tokens of welcome.

Her spellbinding autobiography of over-the-top exploits with the pygmy barbarian cannibals of the Peedon Yellow Mountains in the flatlands of Patagonia, properly titled The Unbelievable, but Possibly True, Adventures of Cookie Hogan, would have made the New York Times Bestseller List, if only she had discerned the possibilities in her name.

Alas poor Cookie, almost famous.

Unfortunately, lots of folks with notable names regrettably slip through the cracks of distinction. They fail to appreciate the marketing potential of their monikers. Take, for instance, a fellow cabin mate from my childhood, who attended Jenny Arnold Edwards camp with me for summers on end. She wore her hair in a "precious" bob and "joyfully" bounced on her toes wherever she walked. For five years running, to my personal disappointment, she won the Best Camper award; a résumé builder for sure.

And, as if all that didn't stack her deck, her parents rigged her birth certificate for future success, as well. Her name alone would suffice as collateral on a bank loan to support her investment in a discount airline. "You go get 'em girl," the bank president would shout, as she waltzed out of his vault with a billion unsecured dollars to prop her up in a shaky industry.

After all, who wouldn't want to fly a Happy Jet?

Then there's Buster Ash, who in real life sells insurance in Rome, Ga. By the looks of his office, he does well. But, I bet he would give the actuaries the finger for a chance to see the headline, "Buster Ash, World Renowned Attorney to the Cuckold, Wins Big." Money would run through the hands of jilted husbands like warm grits through a slotted spoon as they desperately paid millions to Mr. Ash for his severance services. Women around the world would cover their ***es (rhymes with glasses) at the sheer mention of his name.

And consider Rock Hart, one time a candidate for sheriff of Franklin County, who lives with a built in political slogan: Nothing Scares a Criminal Like a "Hart" of Stone. Climbing the crime fighting ladder requires a hardened heart, and that's a campaign sticking point. Unfortunately, the campaign cache hit rock bottom, and his signs, which accompanied clusters of professional self-promotion banners, suffered hand-painting on ragged scraps of trapezoidal plywood; so much for visions of himself as Head of Homeland Security. Woulda', coulda', shoulda'...

Just imagine if Weatherly Summers, mild mannered housewife of Dacula, Ga., had, instead of seeking a husband, sought a double major in meteorology and communications. The whole nation would tune in to hear her announce the climate conditions on the Today Show each weekday morning. Ratings would soar when she and gold medallist Misty May, of the women's Olympic beach volleyball team, verbally volleyed the weather report.

In the end, Shakespeare got it half right. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but if botanists had christened it spam, would we all want one in our gardens?

(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist and the author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. Lucy invites readers to e-mail comments to and to visit her web site,

Web posted on Thursday, November 13, 2008

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