By Nury Vittachi
People with memorable names, such as Canadian house broker Wendy Wacko, have a huge advantage in life. I once told people my name was Wazzupp Nindood. The default greeting of that era was “What’s happenin’ dude?” so I was famous at my new school for a while.
People who find it hard to think of fake names just copy signs. Years ago, I had an army cadet friend who adopted the pseudonym Private Keepout.
The topic of fake names arose when a reader told me about a scandal in the US state of Massachusetts. A pharmacy boss told staff to write fake prescriptions which “must resemble real names”. But staff typed in the “names” Coco Puff, Filet O’Fish and Bud Weiser. They got caught. This seems unfair. I don’t know any Bud Weisers, but there’s definitely a real guy called Bud Light.
On my early journalistic visits to China, arriving passengers had to fill in endless forms for officials who clearly read no English. My colleagues and I signed in as Disney characters, the Beatles, various US presidents and Pope John Paul II. Once I just wrote Fake Name as my fake name. (These days some read English and have guns, so do NOT try this now.)
In 2006, when Gmail was invitation only, an Indian civil servant named Manesh asked me to set up an account for him using his middle name (Vinod) and mother’s maiden name (Sarkar). A year later, he set up an account using his real name, but I forgot to delete his fake one.
After 12 months, the non-existent Vinod Sarker began to evolve in the primordial slime which is the internet. With no help from me or Manesh, it subscribed to newsletters and junk mail, then it joined LinkedIn, opened a Facebook account and started getting lots of friends. After three years, it got a mobile phone. Recently it opened an account at ING Bank. Its bank statement (which is copied to me) says there’s three million rupees in it, which is about $48,000. I am offended. It’s a web glitch and it’s putting aside more cash than I am!
Anyway, its existence is proof of evolution. Would my children PLEASE NOTE that it grew from a single fake name to a successful, active socialite with zero financial investment. It can be done.
The people I feel sorry for are real folk with names which sound fake, especially if they match their jobs. I just hope Anna Sasin never becomes a contract killer, Warren Peace never becomes an author, and Cara Sterio never goes into automobile music system sales in places where they speak Italian English.
A colleague forwarded me a news clipping in which retired British military man Stan Still complains that his commander used to shout “Stan Still, get a move on,” and then start laughing. Poor him.
When I retire, I am going to buy three budgerigars and call them Itza Bird, Itza Plane and Itzu Perman. And to ensure a happy retirement, I’ll set up another fake gmail account and pray that it evolves into an account holder at some fancy Swiss bank. From now on, please address me as Wazzupp Nindood, former celebrity.