It was early November of 2016 when a well-meaning Quora user asked the public, “Is Chardonnay a good name for my daughter?” and backed up their claim by saying “It sounds classy and cute to me.” Little did they know that in a few weeks they would arouse the attention of sophomore Chardonnay Needler.
For those who have not had the pleasure of encountering the being that is Chardonnay, some background is needed to explain her response.
First of all, who memorized pi to the 200th digit? Chardonnay Summer Rose Needler. Who obsesses and objects to every single lost point in each and every one of her classes? Chardonnay Summer Rose Needler. Whose interests range from neuroscience to classical music and linguistics? Chardonnay Summer Rose Needler, of course!
Chardonnay herself said that she embodies the focus of Weird Al Yankovic’s parody song “White & Nerdy,” which includes lyrics such as “I’m nerdy in the extreme and whiter than sour cream.”
Yes, that is Chardonnay to a T.
And if one is describing Chardonnay, they certainly cannot forget how she frequents drag clubs and is a “haggard, washed-out stripper who (has) made some poor life choices.”
Okay, that part is totally untrue. But according to Annie Lam, and dozens of other Quora users, that is the expected personality of someone named Chardonnay – and the driving force behind Chardonnay’s objection to her name.
Chardonnay said that before she came across the question on Quora, she had just finished calling dozens of businesses to sell advertisements for the Octagon. And many of her contacts had made the same remark about her name: “Your parents must have really liked wine!” Irritated and looking to save a future child from her fate, she began her argument.
“I am what your child might become if you give her that name,” she said.
“When I was younger, I thought it was fun to be different. But now that I’m a teenager, I’ve realized that the price for individuality or a ‘unique-sounding’ name is not worth it.
“To idiots it’ll sound cute, fun, French, maybe even a little exotic, but here are the demographics of that name: in England it’s associated with ‘chavs,’ think of the American version of valley girls but worse and more impolite.”
She went on to back up her claim by referring to a time when the father of one of her friends from outside of Country Day expected her to be from the ghetto and was apprehensive about allowing his son to hang out with her.
But even though Chardonnay crafted a passionate argument against her name, her reaction to the more than 53,800 views (two of which were from English teacher Patricia Fels and senior Zane Jakobs), 600 upvotes and 33 replies was relatively apathetic.
“I didn’t really notice (that) I was Quora-famous,” Chardonnay said. “I just thought, ‘Ugh! There are all of these notifications. How do I turn these off?’”
However, when Chardonnay finally got around to reading the replies, she found some humorous responses.
“Chardonnay is a name like Chablis,” Quora user Gigi Turner said. “A good nightclub name such as the transgender singer in the book ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.’ It is a nickname chosen to give a hint to what is expected such as striptease, drag or lounge singing.”
Chardonnay did joke that on the upside if she ever did go into the entertainment business, she would never have to pick a fake name. But other users had much more pessimistic views.
“Would you name someone ‘Sauerkraut’ out of your fond love for German culture and cuisine? I thought so,” Olivier Rychner said.
“Why, (oh) why, would you set your child up to be picked on?” Debra Allerd said. “Naming your child after alcohol, no matter how ‘cool’ it sounds, is cruel.”
Other commenters were not quite as critical.
“When I was a kid I really wanted a name like yours, something exotic, romantic, with many syllables,” Karen Williams said. “As an adult I realize how lucky I was to have the name I was given.”
Some users suggested that Chardonnay use her middle name or take up a nickname instead.
“You could easily go by the nickname ‘Char,’ or even Charlie would be a great nickname,” Aileen Olsen Hampton said. “No need to get permission from your parents for a nickname!”
In fact, Chardonnay said that her friends do frequently call her Char – to her mother’s dismay.
“My mom would find out about it and say ‘Oh, no. I did not name you Char. I named you Chardonnay,” Chardonnay said.
Chardonnay has also vetoed the suggestion to go by her middle name – Summer Rose.
“That would be even worse!” Chardonnay said. “(People) would think I was a hippie! I have long hair and live in California, so that just adds to the image.”
Chardonnay said she has considered Quora user Steve Gracias’s advice on using Chardonnay with friends and family and taking on a more professional name in the business world.
Though she is stuck for now, Chardonnay wrote a My Angle on Feb. 19 (click here to read) to continue her heartfelt campaign against the name.
—By Sonja Hansen