Bambi + Las Vegas = stripper

Bambi? In Las Vegas? Really? Are you a stripper? [Guffaw.]”

If your name is Bambi and you live in Las Vegas, these, apparently, are fair questions. I get them all the time. Sometimes they don’t ask, they just blacklist my email address. Bambi with a Vegas IP address could only be a certain you-know-what.

It’s no wonder, really: the Las Vegas phonebook has 110 pages of entertainers. And you know what I mean by entertainers. The naughty, discrete, spicy, barely legal, and exotic kind. They’re Swedish, Russian, Swiss, Vietnamese (twins!), Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, and Chinese. They’re sweet, new in town, and fiery. For years, my name was on the back of taxi cabs all over town, lasciviously illustrated with promises of bounty.

Being blacklisted is a pain but easily correctable. I communicate with quite a few police departments, and they’re the biggest offenders. So I do a fair bit of resending, while feeling like an illicit trifle, a forbidden floozy trying to regain her honor.

Here’s how introductions usually go:

Man: Really, Bambi? [[heh-heh] Like the deer?
Me: Yeah, right.
Man: And you live in Las Vegas? Are you a dancer? [read: stripper.]

or:

Woman: Bambi, cute. Is that your real name?
Me: It is, yes.
Woman: Where’s Thumper? [ha-ha] Just kidding.

According to my parents, I was not named after the Disney character, the one in the film made from Felix Salten’s 1923 book, Bambi, a Life in the Woods. My parents insist their inspiration was Bambi Lynn, a dancer best known for her appearance in the 1955 film Oklahoma!. But who was she named for?

As a kid, I had a few nicknames I dare not resurrect. None pleased or bothered me. None lingered, probably because I moved so many times. One move had me in a new school at the start of second grade. The teacher asked if anyone had a nickname or middle name she and the class should use. Aha, I thought, I do, and raised my hand. Lyn, I said. Sure, said the teacher. And all was well until I brought home my first paper. My mother said What’s this? That’s not the name we gave you! It was a meek and humiliated little girl who had to change her name in front of everybody the next day. Probably scarred me for life. Or made me shoulder my burden and bear it.

Two years ago, I was interviewed on television by a Thai woman named Flower. Bambi is Flower’s guest today. Sounds too cute. Most people probably switched channels at that point.

I think a lot about names, how people grow into them, or don’t; how people modify them, or don’t; the effect they have on the bearer and others; the significance or insignificance of them. And how people carry their own names. What they are called vs. what they like to be called.

Many people feel compelled to crack a joke about my name when they meet me. They think they’re being original. I haven’t heard a new one in decades. I don’t have any good comebacks, either. Have any suggestions? I realize how silly it might feel to use my name. I’ve known women named Ditty, Cheery, Bunny, and Honey, and I’ve cringed using their names. Then I remember that I have a toy name, too. A cartoon name.

I’m against middle names, like mine and my sisters’, chosen only for their sound. I like them to have some importance or meaning. I’ve convinced more than one woman to give her maiden name to her child as a middle name.

I like my last name. Not too common but still ordinary; easy to spell and pronounce around the world. A relief after my exotic first name. My mother and father were both Vincents, so I’m double-strength. Of course I couldn’t dump it for marriage. (Somehow, my three sisters had no problem ditching it, though.)

Despite the sound of this rant, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t like a boring name like Linda or Kathy (sorry Linda and Kathy), or a funny name like Gladys (Happy-bottom). I’ve been amused by many a name: women named Wonder, Spratley, Greer, and Phelps. In South Africa, I knew a man named Lastborn and a woman named Surprise (Lastborn’s younger sister?). Having a name that amuses others is not so bad. Even I am amused when someone forgets my name. Something I imagine is so shiny and neon-colored and remarkable can be vin-ordinaire to some.

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15 Comments

  • It’s great to be named after such a talented person. It’s a pretty name in its own right.
    I am wondering who or what Felix Salten named his deer after. Was it after the spanish word bambino, which I think means a beautiful child? Correct me please if I am wrong. I just saw Bambi Lynn (Linn?) performing a cute little ballet number on community tv (filmed 1955) before I came to look her up on the web.
    To be fair I wonder why people never jokingly ask me how many giants I have slain.
    David is hebrew for “beloved.” To be consistent people should joke then that it’s a sissy name, but I guess Biblical David having defeated Goliath stops that.

  • What a great way to start my day, reading ‘Bambi Stories!’. I was born in 1957 and was also named for the talented dancer, Bambina Aennchen Linnemier. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if Bambi “is my stage name.” Course, being 54 years old now I must admit it’s been awhile since I’ve heard that question!

    So nice to meet y’all, hope it’s a good day whetever you are!

  • Bambi
    Thanks for your story. Its nice to hear someone has been very simiar comments. I was named after Bambi Lynn as well. It has had its up side and down side, I find people do remember me and either its soo cute or the stripper (althought my middle name is Lou after my father (Bambi Lou, from Texas for sure). I was born in 57 and just found that 226 baby girls were named Bambi that year. Since 1880 there have been 3247 girls named Bambi. So we are not alone!

  • Well Bambi…how refreshing to read your story!! This is my real name as well..I’m in design and sales and I must say if people don’t remember anything else they’ll remember my name.. tho I’ll never forget an elderly woman said to me, (through a phone conversation [business]), ” Why, you monkey you…who on earth named you that?”. Whereupon I said, “You may call me “Miss Lynn’, from now on.”
    Now, I’m not in any hurry, (tho I am 51)…at some point in time..”Grandma Bambi” will fall on my ears… Yikes!
    And yes, I was named after the ballroom/ballet dancer too.
    Thanks again for your story!

  • I to was named from the great ballrina Bambi Lynn I was born in 56. I have heard all the same little jokes. I still do how crazy. In the last year I have found 2 that were named after her to, and you now 3. Some one tells me one little wise remarks I go down the list No i am not ….No i was not….and yes it is my real birth name ,before they can say any more LOL That stops them in there tracks. I do wish i could lean more about her. hay if it was not for her I be named Bobby-Jo LOL

  • Well, in addition to being a lovely and unique name, it is certainly a conversation starter, and obviously inspires people to attempt cleverness. What more could one want!

  • My wife is named Bambi Lynn as well and named after the same ballroom dancer referred to in prior posts. She and her main dancer partner Rod Alexander can be googled. It has worked for her.

  • Great suggestion, David—I love it!

    Meanwhile, my husband sometimes just tells people that we run a lap dance parlor in Las Vegas. That pretty much stops any conversation!

    Thanks for writing.

  • O.K., since you asked for come-back suggestions, here is one you can try:

    THEM: “Are you named after the dear? Ha ha!” (or whatever)

    YOU: Looking genuinely confused (as if you have never heard such a question before in your life) “No, of course not. The cartoon Bambi was a BOY dear. I am named after Bambi the medevil Persian poetess and philosopher. Is it true that you work in information technology? I heard that somewhere and . . . .” (or whatever). The trick is to confuse them briefly, and then go seamlessly into chit-chat before they have an opportunity to recover. Try it. You might be surprised at how well it goes.

  • I can totally relate to your issues with various comments made when you state your name! Nice to meet you Bambi :) I just wanted to find our if my mom was telling me the truth about being named after a ballerina named Bambi. Guess it was the truth after all.
    As a kid I hated all the teasing but as an adult, I find that my name is a real conversation starter. I am definately an outgoing person because of it.
    Congrats on the great name! Bambi

  • I laughed outloud when I found this story about your name. My name is Bambie and I can tell you that I have heard it all too!
    Every first day of school the teacher would start calling role and say “if there is something else you would like to called – please let me know now”.
    Thank you for sharing your story…It seems like we have shared common experiences.

  • Right now you are trendy and actually have a boring name compared to all the celeb-u-babes. How about: Lyric Angel,Audio Science, Fifi-Trixibelle and her sister Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie (Bob Geldof),Moxie Crimefighter (Penn Jillette), Daisy Boo and Moon Unit….Dare I go on?

  • I agree with Rick. Your name is charming and unique, as you must be, considering the unique life you lead.

  • Bambi,

    You have a class-A name. Enuff said. Those who see symbolism in it – as George Carlin said: ‘leave the symbolism to the symbol-minded’.

    You got a good name. It opens doors I think. It’s just a very good name.

    ‘Och därmed basta.’

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