Born in 1971, I was blessed cursed given the name “Todd”. As a child, we begin to figure out the world and how we fit into it. I think giving your kid the name “Todd” guarantees to define that child as “different”.
Growing up in the 70’s, I remember the thrill of the day I got my first Big Wheel. OK- I am cool!
The Big Wheel was born just a couple of years before me and nothing said “I am a man!” more than the thrill of your 5 year old legs pumping the pedals and breaking traction in the driveway. (This phenomenon is also seen in later male development- usually with disastrous results….) In short order, I’d graduate to the even-more-radical Big Wheel with the handbrake!
The only thing that could make your new plastic hog any cooler would be a license plate with your name on it, right? Ok- let’s head to the mall and Spencer Gifts!
Sorry kid- not if your name is Todd! (If you’re 17 and have your parents’ old ’79 Bonneville, you can forget about the personalized keychain as well.)
Thus is revealed the official confirmation- some names will be forever alone.
To make matters worse, pop culture reinforces the idea that this is a weird name. My first memory of this was Steve Martin’s epic “What I Believe” bit. In the midst of numerous great jokes was the crushing reference to “…Uncle Todd, who waves his penis….” (At the 0:33 mark.) Some transcripts of the monologue reference Tom instead of Todd. They’re wrong. It’s Todd. I love Steve Martin but that line sucks.
Let’s take a quick look at other Todd’s in pop culture- in a rough timeline of sorts. (If you’re too young to get the early references, skip down to one that you’ve heard of.)
- Steve Martin’s barbecuing perv, Uncle Todd with the puppet show.
- Bill Murray as co-Nerd Todd DiLaMuca with Gilda Radner’s Lisa Loopner on Saturday Night Live. “Toooodddddd…”
- The Simpsons‘ youngest Flanders, Todd. Todd is redeemed slightly for his tendency to curse under pressure.
- Remember Boogie Nights? Great movie. Remember Thomas Jane as Dirk’s one-time rival, the smarmy exotic dancer Todd that masterminds the drug deal that goes bad?
(Or, if you’d prefer to watch the excellent scene, click here.)
- Scrubs‘ “The Todd”. This guy took it to a new level wearing entirely too many thongs throughout the life of the show. (I’m not finding a picture or linking to a video. You’re on your own with that one.)
- Wedding Crashers– Todd, the tortured emo artist brother of Owen Wilson’s love interest. He makes the list not because he’s gay but because of the absurd pathos of the character.
- Dunder Mifflin’s own Todd Packer (The Office). Thanks dude. Way to class it up.
- Finally, the comic genius David Cross, once of Arrested Development, as the titular character in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Him? (He’ll be redeemed if Arrested Development makes its rumored comeback.)
In the interest of feigned journalistic objectivity, let’s explore cool characters with the name “Todd”.
- Disney’s 1981 epic The Fox and the Hound‘s own Tod, the fox, with ridiculous spelling. (Remember that? No? Did you miss the 30th anniversary rerelease? Don’t worry- so did everyone else- although it did make it to Blu-Ray.)
- ummmm… that’s it- I’m out.
If my wife and I are watching TV or a movie and a character named “Todd” is introduced, you can bet I don’t want to be compared to him.
For better or worse, “Todd” is who I am. Add to that the surname “Panek” and I can pretty much guarantee that no one else is reaching for my coffee order. However, I’m not alone. On Google I’ve found at least two other “Todd Panek’s”. One appears to be a racer (motocross? BMX? not sure.) Another is a Director of Operations with RewardDollars thanking Raspberry Media for some business-to-business service.
This is me- and I’m comfortable in my own skin. (As the Naked Room in my retirement planning illustrates.)