Name Droppers

Every year hundreds of Miami's titularly challenged discover that a new name can mean a new you

"The name is from Holland, but I'm from Venezuela," explains Igor Van Der Biest. "People ask about it all the time! They say it's a very pretty name. For some reason they think I have lots of money. I don't, though. I work hard at insurance and exports." Is he aware that the name sounds sort of ominous and spooky? "No. That's interesting."

"It's good for my business," contends Pinky Person III, an award-winning car salesman. "But if I was married and had a son, I wouldn't name him Pinky Person IV. I think that's enough of it. I think the fourth would be a little ridiculous." Person adds that his grandfather, the first Pinky, also worked for a car dealership, this one in Macon, Georgia. Oddly, its owner was named Pink Person.

Leonard Bernstein, though still listed in the white pages, died seven years ago. A cousin recalls that the deceased Bernstein worked in New York City as a longshoreman before moving to Miami, and that he once met the legendary composer. "The lesser-known Mr. Bernstein accosted the famous Mr. Bernstein and shook his hand," the cousin recounts. "He says, 'I know who you are.' They talked for a little bit. It was very cordial."

"I'm 52 years old and I've heard it pronounced correctly maybe four times, and one of those was a professor, so that doesn't count, does it?" sighs the wife of Ulysses S. Boring, pronounced Boring.

"Let's face it, croissants are everywhere now, even at Burger King, so no big deal," says Ingeborg Croissant, a self-described war bride from Germany who married a Frenchman. "If people can't pronounce it, I just say forget it, call me Mrs. Bun. Why are you so interested in my name, anyway? This sounds fishy. What's your name? Rowe? Now this sounds very fishy."

The legendary name Dolores Fuertes de Barriga (literal translation: strong pains in the stomach) has been floating around Miami for years. Tracking down a real person to attach to the name is an exercise in frustration, though. "It was a real name," insists Chiqui Boswell Fuertes, who believes she's a distant relative of Dolores's. "In Puerto Rico and Cuba there were many complex names like that. Look at that newspaper columnist who has the highest IQ of anyone alive: Her name is Marilyn Vos Savant, right? So it's not so surprising."

Picture the insomniac business traveler who checks into his or her Miami motel room and finds the air-conditioned chamber bereft of the usual Gideon's Bible. What to read besides the room service menu? Behold, the lowly phone book!

Wherein we find the famous (Richard A. Nixon, Jimmie Carter, Julio Cesar, Winston J. Churchill, Ezra Ben-Hur, James Bond, Muhammad Ali, Edgar Poe III A a bona fide descendant of the horror-story writer A and Manuel Noriega, number unlisted ever since the U.S. invasion of Panama); the pitiable (Errol Odor, Marianne Dragonette, Brandy Alexander, Glen Crisco, M. Goose, Sandy Arroyo, Robert Anguish, Glenda Crisis, Rolf Frankfurter, Carmen Banal, Sonia and Hector Bologna, Max Blank, William Bozo, J. Amigodelaquintana, and Libertad Cuba); the covertly or obtusely erotic (Debbie Bimbo, Nancy Babe, Mr. Mark Goodbar, Barbara Amazon, Linda Bacchus, Sam Bone, Daisy Condom, Peter Venus, Karen Virgin, Larry and Harry Cherry, and Yolanda Cutie A "I'm five-six, Cuban of French ancestry, brown hair, brown eyes. I'm not like fat or anything"); the slightly scary (Muggeridge Crow, Serch Crapp, Lucy Bully, Benjamin Canabal, and Larry Cruel); the lovable (Tequita Bean, Sir Baxter Bear, Pooh Bryant, Bunny Bugs, and Jack Frost); the unlikely (Art Apogee, Ace Armstrong, Lil Nipper, Waldo Velvet, Charlie Angel, and Sidney Advocate, attorney at law); and the unclassifiable (Gle Ego, Zoltan Vamos).

There's Flossie Bing and Mark Bong, several Yips and Yaps, a Yuck and a Yick. And indisputably last but not least, Vladimir Zzzyd, who really exists. While Coco Ivonne Lindao's yin and yang may be in perfect balance, the Miami phone book isn't. There are 21 Yangs, but only 2 Yins.

The white pages are full of mysteries and disappointments, too. No one is named Miami, though there's one Miani. The absence of a Davy Crockett is forgivable, but there's no Sonny Crockett, either, and no Jimmy Buffett. Directory assistance offers three Condos, but none of them actually lives in a condo. There's a Jacuzzi in Punta Gorda, but not one here.

Now the traveler loosens his tie and scratches his head, noting thirteen people with the last name of Billie, all at the same address, 37790 SW Eighth St. Incomprehensible! A typo! If he were a local, our businessman would understand that he is squinting at the numeric manifestation of an entire Miccosukee Indian family clan, and he would know that the address is a large swath of roadside swamp 40 miles west of downtown Miami.

Skipping ahead, he sees not a single Hitler, no Idi Amins or Caligulas, no Qaddafis or Pol Pots. No Norman Bates or Benedict Arnold. Not a single Fulgencio Batista.

There aren't any Fidel Castros listed either, though there used to be. "No one would put their name in there with that name," a BellSouth operator offers. "It would be dangerous." One of the Fidels, a Killian High School student born in the Dominican Republic, got fed up and changed his name to Christian in 1995. Another, a pro soccer player from Peru, has left town. The only surviving Fidel Castro in Florida, a Cuban-American truck driver, told the Miami Herald in 1994: "Some people, ideological extremists, have tried to pressure me into changing my name. But I like my name. That's what my parents named me. That's how people know me. That's who I am."

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