Full Circle: A Boy Named Zoo
It’s all about the name game

I grew up with kids named Danny and Billy and Buzzy. A few of us were destined for fame and fortune. Most of us were destined to work in the hardware department at Sears.

We met girls named Dotty and Betty and Sue. We had presidents named Harry and Dwight and Jack. Our baseball team had a manager named Mayo. And there were players named Willie and Gus and Elmer and Stosh.

But things have changed. Now, every Tom, Dick and Harry is named Ethan.

Look, I don’t care what you name your kids. But, whatever you do, give your kid a name that people can pronounce. Take it from a kid who’s gone through life with two names that nobody can say right.

Take it from someone who’s sat in too many doctors’ offices and heard the nurse come out and call, “Murray? Is there a Murray here? How about Mewrey? Hmm. Marvy? Anyone named Marvy?”

Yep, that’s right. My parents named me Marvy. And they named my sister Swella.

And, when I finally mumble “Maury” under my breath, I get the inevitable question, “What’s that short for? Morris? Maurice?” Well, some people call me the Space Cowboy, but Maury isn’t short for anything. We were a poor family. We could only afford nicknames.

It’s not like this runs in my family. My parents had perfectly normal names. My father was Lewis or Lew. His friends called him Louie. My mother was Rose. How sweet.

When they sent me to school, there were four Toms in my kindergarten class. And five Dannys. But not me. My parents wanted me to stand out. And, boy, did I. The one thing that saved me from abuse in the ’50s and ’60s was that there was a really good baseball player named Maury. He played for the Dodgers and he ran like the wind. Now, there’s nobody, except a really bad talk-show host. And, no, I don’t have the results of your paternity test.

To make me stand out even more, my parents gave me a middle name that started with a Z. Just another reason I’ve never told anyone what that name was. Although, everyone tries to guess. It’s become America’s leading game show.

Even a class of school kids I was talking to recently got in the act.

“What’s the Z stand for?” asked Brooklyn. “Is it Zorro?”

Good guess. That’s what Senorita Donofrio called me in my high school Spanish class, since there was no known Spanish translation of my name. But, no, that’s not it.

“Is it Zebediah?” said Miley.

“How about Zordash?” guessed Kaylee.

No. And no.

“I know,” said Aiden. “Is it Zeppo?”

“How about Zippo?” said Jayden.

“Ooo, ooo, I have it,” Brayden said. “It’s got to be Zoo.”

Yep, that’s it, kid. My parents named me Zoo. Because, you know, they liked to monkey around.

“Why did your parents do that?” asked Aaliyah. “Why did they give you two weird names that nobody could pronounce? Didn’t they know that people would always get your name wrong?”

Ah, out of the mouth of babes named Aaliyah. I told her that I didn’t hold the names against my parents. That they were good parents who really cared about me. And what they wanted to do was make me unique. And they did. Just Google “Maury Z. Levy.” Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

See? My parents succeeded. I am one of a kind. And that’s not a bad thing.

“But how do people remember your name?” asked Oprah.

“Oh,” I told her. “That’s easy. I just teach them this little song…”

“Maury, Maury bo-baury, Banana-fanna fo-faury,
Fee-fi-mo-Maury. Maury!”

January 2014
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