Many of us can related to the pains of having some ~thing~ about our names. Maybe it's hard to spell or pronounce, or maybe it has some rhyme that people joked about on the schoolyard.
And plenty of people have a particular subtype of name frustration: They happen to have the same name as a famous person. Usually, this famous person became famous after they were born. I'm sure somewhere out there there's a 45-year-old man named Justin Bieber who is pretty annoyed right now.
Recently, a young woman messaged me saying she had a particularly interesting story about her name, something that has caused her a lot of grief over social media lately: Her Instagram handle is her maiden name, which is the same as a male celebrity, and she's being constantly tagged in Instagram photos of him.
What's truly incredibly about her journey is that she was born with a celebrity doppelgänger name, but when she got married, she took on her husband's last name, which meant she now had the same name as a very recently famous fictitious character.
This is the story of a woman born Christian Slater, who became Christian Gray.
Let’s start at the beginning. When were you born? Was it before Christian Slater was famous?
I was born in 1992. My parents claim that they did not know of the actor at this point (I still question that to this day). My parents were born and raised in small-town Tennessee, so I assume that this could possibly be true. The story I have always gotten is that my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother's maiden name was Christian, and that is where I got my name from. I am sorry to say I have never really checked into this. My middle name is Nicole, because every female born in the South in the early-to-mid '90s' middle name was Nicole.
Wait, seriously. Christian Slater was a hugely famous movie star by 1992. Pump Up the Volume came out in 1990; Heathers was 1988; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was 1991 and that was a huge hit! It was the second-highest grossing movie that year. How had they never heard of him?
I, too, wish I had a reasonable explanation for this. I do have a theory that they were just embarrassed after deciding to name me Christian Slater and they have denied it to this day that it was after the actor. However, I have never gotten a confession from them about this. I also never saw any Christian Slater movies until I was in middle school, which people usually find odd.
I actually just called my mom just to make sure I was getting it right but she claims she picked the name out in 1990. She says she honestly did not know he was famous until I was about 3 or 4 (1995–1996). This really doesn't surprise me that much. Just to give you an idea of my family, I was raised in a very religious household. I can't remember ever listening to anything other than Christian music until I was in middle school. As for other people telling her about him, the people she was friends with were very religious. I don't know if this makes sense, but for small-town life it's pretty common, especially before the internet.
So you got married, and now your name is Christian Gray. Like the 50 Shades of Grey character. Did you know about the book before you got married?
I got married in August of 2014, right before the 50 Shades of Grey movie came out in February of 2015. This has really been the horror of my name. Although I don't get as many "shout-outs" on social media because my name is spelled Gray, instead of Grey like the character, I get more comments in real life from my name now than I ever did with Christian Slater. As you can imagine, the comments about 50 Shades of Grey are much more uncomfortable because of the content.
Probably the most uncomfortable one I have encountered is my dental hygienist talking in detail to me about the explicit parts of the movie while cleaning my teeth. My gynecologist's office staff is also exceptionally obsessed with my name(s). I started going there before I got married so they consistently comment on Christian Slater and Christian Gray. It's also super awkward when I have my (male) gynecologist's fingers in my vagina and the nurse is talking to me about the 50 Shades of Grey book.
Ugh, why are doctors always SO obsessed with names? Every doctor or dentist I go to becomes an amateur genealogy sleuth and wants to know all about my Greek last name (Do I speak Greek? Have I been there?) even though I’m barely Greek. Do you ever regret changing your name to Gray?
I do not regret taking my husband's name. I feel like since I have had a famous name from the beginning it was a nice change from Christian Slater. It really just changes things up enough for it to not be boring anymore.