1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Woman goes through life with ‘Marijuana’ first name

By
TODAY contributor
updated 12/31/2009 11:12:09 AM ET 2009-12-31T16:12:09

When Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” he didn’t live in a world where pop stars call their babies Bronx Mowgli and students sit outside a college counselor’s office underneath a sign that reads: “If You’re Waiting for Marijuana, Sit Here.”

Celebrities giving their offspring names that they call creative and others call bizarre is nothing new, as Moon Unit and Dweezil Zappa could tell you. So when singer Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and rocker Pete Wentz had a son in November 2008 and named the tyke Bronx Mowgli, it wasn’t that surprising.

But celebrities aren’t the only ones who enjoy inflicting challenging names on their children. Take, for instance, the aforementioned Marijuana, whose full name is Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer.

Standing out
Somehow, as NBC News’ Contessa Brewer reported Thursday for TODAY, the woman named after a psychoactive weed and a popular soft drink made it through childhood, college and grad school and became a college counselor. “I’ve grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I’ve had to be,” Marijuana Pepsi said, adding that she still wonders what made her mother pick that name.

  1. Stories from
    1. Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss and More Fashion Stars Remember Oscar de la Renta
    2. Leslie Jones Named New SNL Cast Member
    3. Oscar de la Renta Is Dead at 82
    4. DWTS: Which Celeb Scored Well But Still Got Booted?
    5. Shia LaBeouf Explains His Existential Crisis, How Finding God 'Saved' Him
The worst baby names of all time

“I want to know, what was it about me that made her go, ‘You just look like a Marijuana Pepsi,’ ” she said. (Perhaps “Marijuana Doritos” didn’t have the same ring.)

Brewer found many other otherwise normal people with names that stand out even in a crowd of celebrity babies.

“My name is Tahiti Starship. My parents were hippies,” one young woman reported. “They said they were dreaming of Tahiti. And they named me Starship after the band.”

There’s a man named Yellow Light Bree and women named Cupcake Sanders and Crystal Sunshine Turpin Lemons. And a lovely young girl called Tygerlily Gagnon.

Name games
Then there are the names that are plays on words, like Stan Still, Mary Christmas, Justin Case, and the Wood kids, Drift and Timber. And don’t forget Rob Morrow’s daughter, Tu Morrow.

TODAY
Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer became a college counselor despite her odd name.
At least such names are just playful. Others can be embarrassing, like the folks who go through life with monikers that have become immortalized in Bart Simpson’s prank calls to Moe’s Tavern. That’s right: There actually are people named Al Caholic, Oliver Clothesoff, I.P. Freely, Seymour Butz, Mike Rotch, Hugh Jass, Amanda Hugginkiss, Ivana Tinkle, Anita Bath and Maya Buttreeks.

You could look it up at Ancestry.com or the U.S. Census, where you’ll also find people named Tyranny, Hellion, Devious and Apocalipsis.

Unusual pressures
David Figlio, a social policy professor, said that parents should be aware that unusual names put unusual pressures on kids.

The 6th Annual Project A.L.S. Benefit - Arrivals
Alberto E. Rodriguez  /  Getty Images file
Rob Morrow and his wife, Debbon Ayer, named their daughter Tu Morrow.

“If you want to give your kid a unique name, you need to be aware of the fact that no matter how wonderful you think that name is, society reacts to names,” Figlio said in Brewer’s report. “If you have an uncommon name that connotes low status, you might be treated differently by your teachers. You might end up being picked on more in school.”

Brewer noted that she herself has gone through life with a name that’s out of the ordinary.

“When I was a little girl, my parents told me my name, Contessa, meant ‘little princess,’ ” she reported. “As I got older, I learned it’s actually a title, like countess. And if my parents were going for royalty, why not aim higher?”

What, then, is in a name? Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

But would a Marijuana Pepsi by any other name be counseling kids about college?

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Ashley Landis / EPA

    Watch Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder honor doctor onstage at concert

    10/20/2014 10:12:53 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T22:12:53
  1. Michael Becker / Getty Images

    'American Idol's' Scott MacIntyre hoping for new kidney in 6 months

    10/21/2014 12:12:49 AM +00:00 2014-10-21T00:12:49
  1. Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

    After years of silence, Monica Lewinsky speaks about cyber bullying

    10/20/2014 11:27:26 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T23:27:26
  1. Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

    Former 'American Idol' contestant Joanne Borgella dies at 32

    10/20/2014 10:31:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T22:31:52
  1. Three big expenses you'll save on this fall

    10/20/2014 1:35:24 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T13:35:24
  1. Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images

    Kristen Bell talks about using sign language with young daughter

    10/20/2014 11:17:07 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T23:17:07