Are You 4Real? No, I'm Superman.

Are You 4Real? No, I'm Superman.
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

I wanted to change my name when I was four, because I thought it would make me a fast runner. There was a kid named Sam in my nursery school, and he was a fast runner. So I figured out a way that I could run as fast as he did.

"Mom, can I change my name to Sam?"

"What's wrong with your name?" my mother asked.

"Because if I'm called Sam, I'll be able to run fast." And I explained my well-reasoned theory.

My mom was the voice of reason. "Your name doesn't make you run fast. That's just something people are able to do. Names don't change how we act or what we can do."

That was actually pretty good advice, since I was named for Erik the Red, the Viking explorer.

According to historians, Erik the Red was banished to Iceland from Norway after committing several murders. He was then banished from Iceland after committing several more murders, including killing two men, after stealing his shovel back from their father. He then discovered Greenland, a cold and inhospitable land, and gave it a pleasant sounding name in order to encourage other people to migrate to the new territory.

Even at age four, I was pretty sure murder, pillaging, and marketing were against the rules at nursery school, so I didn't behave like my namesake. I realized what my mom meant when she said we defined our names through our actions, not the other way around.

All things considered, it's a good thing I didn't want to change my name to Superman. That would have caused a lot of problems in itself. The expectations placed on a skinny, geeky kid named after the Man of Steel would have been too much to live up to. Not to mention the regular beatings by the school bullies, who would have done it just to prove I was anything but super.

"Why are you hitting yourself, Superman? Does someone have some Kryptonite? How would you like a super wedgie?"

Given that very real possibility, why would any parent name their kid Superman? You'll have to ask Pat and Sheena Wheaton of New Zealand for the answer to that question. They saddled their newborn son with that name.

They've officially named him Superman, but only because New Zealand's Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages wouldn't let them use their first choice: 4Real.

No, that's not a typo. They really want to call their kid 4Real. It sounds like something middle school girls write on their notebooks: "Kristy and David 2gether 4ever."

The Wheatons -- or should that be the Wh3@t0n5? -- decided on the name 4Real after they saw his ultrasound and realized the baby was "for real." They wanted to use the number because it was the clearest way of writing it.

Apparently, they also have trouble spelling the word "for."

(I wonder if 4Real will have brothers and sisters named "4Real2," "CanYouTellIfIt'sABoy?" and "OhCrapMyCondomBroke!")

But New Zealand has rules about baby names, so they nixed the Wh3@t0n5 juvenile-sounding choice. The rules say that names starting with a number are not allowed. They also advise parents to avoid names that could get the kid teased or beat up.

So, in an attempt to thumb their nose at the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, which runs the registry, the Wh3@t0n5 are going to officially name their son Superman, but refer to him as 4Real. So, neener neener neener.

"No matter what, it's going to stay 4Real," Pat Wh3@t0n told the New Zealand Herald. "I'm certainly not a quitter."

No, you're an idiot. You've doomed your son to a lifetime of ridicule and humiliation, until he changes his name in shame and embarrassment, after years of therapy. But hey, as long as you're happy, right? After all, a kid's name should be all about the parents loony impulses, right?

(For the record, the Wh3@t0n5 aren't alone in their Superman fetish. It turns out actor Nicholas Cage named his son Kal-El, which was Superman's given name, before he was rocketed off Krypton.)

Historically, the Department of Internal Affairs has had its hands full, having to stop parents from naming their kids Satan, Adolph Hitler, or Barry Bonds. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

So why can't the Wh3@t0n5 stick with something more traditional and less controversial? Like naming a kid after a bloodthirsty, murdering Norse explorer?

He won't be able to run very fast, but he's the guy to call when you want to get your weed whacker back from your neighbor.