10/18/2006

Name Games

There are a few games that you can play with other people’s names that can be lots of fun. My wife was at the receiving end of this, as her maiden name was very lyrical, almost like ‘Marco Polo’. I had a chavruta who also had such a name.

I recently got an invitation for the KBY dinner which took place on Chol Ha-mo’ed. The alumnus they chose to honor is a fellow named Ofer Unger. That would be a great name for a bookie. Of course, in Hebrew the name doesn’t sound like anything strange. In English, though, it’s like “Hey, what’s the Ofer/Unger on the Mets-Cards Game 6”. It alsv recalls the hilarious takeoff scene from the moie 'Airplane'. It's so much more fun than just snickering at an Israeli named 'Dudu' or the like.

There’s also two versions of the ‘no last name’ game. It starts with a little ditty that can be sung when encountering someone whose last name is also a first name. It is sung to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’:

Richard Joel

Richard Joel

No last name

No last name

You can call him Richard

You can call him Joel

No last name

No last name

If you can find someone with 3 or more ‘no last names’, it can get really fun. Former Israeli President Yitzchak Ben Zvi is a 3. I’ve encountered a few 4s, but only once have I nailed a 5er:

Ben Zion Meir Chai Uzziel

Ben Zion Meir Chai Uzziel

No last name

No last name

You can call him Ben

You can call him Zion

You can call him Meir

You can call him Chai

You can call him Uzziel

No last name

No last name

See how much fun this can be?

The other version is when you put together a string of ‘no last names’ such that the names in the middle are the prior person’s last name, and the next person’s first name. This can work in Hebrew or English. For example:

Amnon Yitzchak Mordechai Eliyahu Bakshi Doron Sheffer

Or

Malcolm Little Richard Joel Paul Simon Bolivar

Try it. It’s great fun.

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