I was reading a review for the new movie Rescue Dawn and nearly sprayed soda on my screen in a rainbow array of backlit droplets when I read that the main character’s name is “Dieter.” It seemed somewhat appropriate since Christian Bale plays the character and I’ll never forget how scary thin he got for the film The Machinist. I should print out the picture of him imitating a bird and paste it in my dictionary next to the definition for “heebie-jeebies” because it always gives me them. The man made Nicole Ritchie look plump. But upon further research I realized that the name “Dieter” is German and I’ve actually heard it said many times, most notably attached to the Mike Myers character of a German talk show host. I’d just never seen it spelled before. It’s not pronounced “DIE-et-er” but “DEET-er.” It means warrior of the people and has absolutely nothing to do with SlimFast shakes.
However, I still think it’s funny that there are probably thousands of kids and adults in Germany named “Dieter.” I wonder how many of them are actually on diets. I also have to wonder if there are any American names that translate to something funny in foreign languages. The whole concept reminds me of a quote from The Breakfast Club where Bender says “Claire is a fat girl’s name.” I have no idea what Bender meant by this, but can your name really make you fat or thin? Claire Danes is pretty thin. I used to go by the nickname Jenny before the 2nd grade. However, Jennifer was the most popular girl’s name for girls born in 1980 so there were always lots of other Jenny’s around. I changed it to Jennette when we moved to another state. Jenny is also the name for a female bird, like a turkey. Gobble, gobble. Does Jenny sound fatter than Jennette? Thinner? The same? I have no idea. It was only because I was going by Jennette that I was called Jennetti Spaghetti, the great PastaQueen, so my Internet handle would probably be different if I’d never dropped my nickname. At least my parents didn’t name me Meridia.