Name changers

Name changers
Captain Awesome, formerly known as Douglas Allen Smith Jr., poses for a photo with his identification card in Eugene, Ore. The former Mr. Smith says he changed his name to Captain Awesome last month because he was inspired by the nickname of a character on the NBC television show "Chuck" — Dr. Devon "Captain Awesome" Woodcomb. Awesome says that judge also allowed him to sign his name as a right arrow, a smiley face and a left arrow, shown on his I.D. card. (AP photo/Brian Davies, The Register-Guard)

On the way to work one day this week, I heard Eric Ferguson (of the morning show "Eric and Kathy") mention that a man in Oregon legally changed his name to "Captain Awesome."

"The judge that granted the request made him swear he wasn't changing his name for fraudulent reasons," said Ferguson. "Awesome says that judge also allowed him to sign his name as right arrow, a smiley face, followed by a left arrow. His bank, however, has refused to accept the signature because it could be forged too easily."

Of course laughter ensued, both on the radio and in my car. But when I got to work and looked up the facts, they all turned out to be absolutely true. This man in Oregon (formerly Douglas Allen Smith Jr., by the way) has legally been "Captain Awesome" for about a month. Why that name, you may ask? Apparently he was inspired by the nickname of a character on the NBC television show "Chuck"—Dr. Devon "Captain Awesome" Woodcomb. Smith (or "Awesome" if you prefer) is an unemployed cabinet installer. I'm guessing he'll get a job pretty soon now that he's gotten all this publicity. Maybe that was part of the plan?

But Captain Awesome pales in comparison to some of the other bizarre name changes that occurred in 2010. This June, a woman from Britain was told by the Thomas Cook travel company that she would be charged a fee to change her name on her reservation. Rather than pay the fee to make the switch, she legally changed her name from "Austin Kettle" to "Mrs. Lorraine Darla I Hate Thomas Cook And Its Associates Big Shot Company Treading On The Little Guy Leeks."

The most extensive name change I could find (also from Britain) comes from a woman named Ceejay Epton, who decided to change her moniker in August after giving birth to her son, Kian. She claimed to want to make it easy for her son to learn the alphabet, so her name is now officially registered as "Ceejay A Apple B Boat C Cat D Dog E Elephant F Flower G Goat H House I Igloo J Jellyfish K Kite L Lion M Monkey N Nurse O Octopus P Penguin Q Queen R Robot S Sun T Tree U Umbrella V Violin W Whale X X-Ray Y Yo-Yo Z Zebra Terryn Feuji-Sharemi."


So I started to wonder ... if I could legally change my name to anything, what would it be?

As a kid, I had name envy. My brother was given the original name Rafer, and my mother gave me the most popular name for girls at the time: Jenniffer. While she did add an extra "f" to make it a bit more original, it just made all of my teachers think I didn't know how to spell my own name.

I did some research on what it would take to change my name if I ever did want to be "Madame Awesome". According to the Illinois State Code, you have to be a resident of the state for at least 6 months, and then one may file a petition for the name change in the circuit court of their residing county. (Unless you've convicted a felony or misdemeanor, and then it gets complicated.) The price tag is $39.95 for an adult name change (but if you have a paralegal take care of it—then it's $79.95).

I asked our TribU readers on Facebook what name they'd like to have if they had the choice. Some of the suggestions include: Brad Pitt, Agador Spartacus and Bombastus Fluegelhorn.

What would your name change be and why?