Mona can’t buy my love

Bob Morrissey

Oh, the thoughts that infiltrate a man’s mind when he pushes 80. They seemingly come out of nowhere. Thing is, once these thoughts take root, they linger, unwanted, for years; in other words for “life.”

My latest erratic thought has been percolating for months. And, weirdly, it’s all about a woman’s name: “Mona.”

I just don’t like it — and, frankly, who does? Facts don’t lie: in 1950, Mona was the 230th most popular female name; today, after a decline that started in the late ’80s, it’s ranked 1,613rd — I imagine it’s right up there with “Chester” for males.

For a normal person, that would be enough. But old guys like me can’t let go. It’s not enough to just dislike a name; we obsess over it. The weakened mind gets clogged with questions: Are there any Monas in my condo or neighbourhood — or even in Canada or the rest of the world? And why exactly did any parent anywhere saddle their wee one with that name? What did they find “cute” about it?

I’d like to give kudos to Mona Lisa’s parents for adding the word “Lisa” to her name in around 1503, but I’d be wrong. Her name was actually Lisa Gherardini, before Leonardo da Vinci entered the picture. Hopefully, it wasn’t Leonardo who added the word “Mona.” I mean, how could he? Can you picture Leonardo, saying, “Mona, enough about the Protestant Reformation and give us a smile.” Now replace Mona with Lisa. See, slightly better.

Ordinarily, that should be the end of it — but not when you’re old and obsessed and lacking uninterrupted sleep. It’s never that simple: right when you think you’ve purged the name from memory, questions persist.

For example: name one actress named Mona. The only one who comes to mind is adult star “Moan-ah,” but as the saying goes, “close but no Clinton cigar.” Has there ever been a Mona on any Olympic team — or in any sport? Has any Mona ever sang the national anthem at a Canadiens or Alouettes game? Maybe at a Senators game in Ottawa, but I digress.

Has anyone named Mona ever charged anyone with sexual harassment? Or taken out a restraining order against anyone? Has anyone ever gone to a dating site, hoping to find a Mona “who likes to cuddle … and go for long walks.” Can you picture yourself sipping champagne with a Mona … or saying to a Mona: “Stop! you’re such a tease; you seductive little nymph!”

Won’t happen.

Another thing: did anyone ever write a romantic song about Mona — like composer Johnny Mandel and lyricist Johnny Mercer did about “Emily?” I suppose Paul Anka might have tried, but got disgusted and settled on “Diana.” Undeniably, Emily is another frumpy name, but all that changed with Frank Sinatra’s terrific rendition of it: now it’s considered a beautiful, even haunting, ballad. Think of the song’s opening lyrics: “Emily, Emily, Emily. Has the murmuring sound of May. All silver bells, coral shells, carousels. And the laughter of children at play.” Now substitute the word Mona.

Ugh (index finger down throat).


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