You know, there are more than enough outlandish baby names these days (Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K anyone?) to not have to resort to propagating repeatedly-debunked urban legends about silly names. And a lot of these people, when called on it, are like a dog with a bone. They just won’t admit that maybe someone was pulling their leg or misinformed themselves. Would it be the worst thing in the world if you admitted that every single town and city in the United States does NOT have children named Le-a, Female, Male, Shi’thead, As’shole, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Penis, Lemonjello, and Orangejello?

At the root of many of these urban legends are racism and classism. In the original versions of many of these stories, the parents are poor, ignorant, and many times from ethnic minorities. We’re supposed to laugh at the African-American mother who didn’t realize how Eczema or Penis is really pronounced, or the Mexican who thinks Gonorrhea or Chlamydia sounds like a beautiful name, or the dumb teen mom who saw the word “female” and thought it was a name, pronounced Fe-MALL-ay.

The ones that annoy me most are the Jello twins and the Ledasha urban legends. Seriously, these have been on so many message boards and e-mail lists for so many years. Don’t you think it’s a bit odd how so many towns have children with these names? I cringed during the third meal of Shabbos recently when a new freshman started claiming he went to school with the Jello twins.

I began telling a friend of mine, loudly enough for him to hear, that that’s an urban legend with a lot of racism and classism at its root, and that many people aren’t skeptical enough when they hear outlandish stories with no proof. I added that my favorite urban legend is the one about the young woman who got pregnant by a bullet during the Civil War.

No, you did not go to school with, teach, serve as principal to, deliver, serve as nurse to, or interact in any way with these mythical Jello twins or Le-a, pronounced Ledasha because the stupid underclass, ethnic minority mother didn’t realize the dash is silent. Stop claiming you did. Why do you think so many people claim to have known or heard of these children? Unless you can show me the public records, I’m going to believe you’re a liar or were lied to by someone else.

Yes, apparently there now are a few real children with these names on public record, but they came well after the urban legends. I feel sorry for these children, named by parents who thought it would be so cute to name them after well-known urban legends. It’s like choosing a name that forms a phrase with the last name, like Justin Case, Rose Garden, or Crystal Chanda Leer. That stops being cute after five minutes.

If a story sounds too weird or convenient to be true, it probably is. Don’t just accept unverified stories and then propagate them to eternity. Do some homework first, particularly on Snopes. It just becomes harder to debunk them all over again when yet ANOTHER person starts up with the “I went to school with twins named Lemonjello and Orangejello!”

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