Mother's year-long wait for Godot

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The Independent Online
Somewhere in Hanover there is a very happy little boy. For 395 days of his short life he lacked a name but now, thanks to his mother's persistence, the long wait is over. A toast to Max Geronimo Godot.

"Godot?", asked the town registrar all those 395 days ago. Flicking nervously through his list of approved German names, the civil servant smiled as he spotted "Max", his brows furrowed as he searched among the Gs for Geronimo, and began to twitch nervously when the baby's mother started to spell out G-O-D-O-T.

The registrar was well-read. He had heard about Geronimo, though he was pretty sure it was not a German name. Worse, he had seen the name "Godot" written down somewhere. "I've got it," he exclaimed. "Godot is in no way a forename. It's a fantasy name from literature. You can't have it." To prove he was not a heartless pen-pusher he nodded "Geronimo" through.

Normally, such verdicts are final. The laws of German nomenclature are strict to the point of defining how many words a name can consist of, and even what a married woman is allowed to call herself. The system is designed to keep silly names like Elvis out of the telephone book. The registrar also wanted to prevent the child being subjected to ridicule, he said. But the mother did not let the matter rest and petitioned the regional court. The learned judges have spent more than a year considering the matter, and issued their verdict yesterday: "Fantasy names are allowed if a child has several forenames, so that he can choose later in life what he wants to be called."

The implication is that if Max etcetera opts for Godot, he might be in trouble with the law again. But that's 17 years away - almost an eternity.