Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name

Names.  Oh, Lord, the names.  Next to the decision of whether or not to have a kid in the first place it seems like one of the most important decisions one has to tackle in those months between peeing on a stick and the arrival of your little one.

Now that we know we're having a girl, the field of names has been halved, but I'm still struggling with pinning down a finalist.

Part of my problem is my innate ability to come up with horrible nicknames for said name which will inevitably be the way our child will suffer through the majority of elementary school on into post-grad.

The following exchange lifted from the amazing socio-economic, hard-hitting documentary of suburban America, The Simpsons, is a classic example of what I'm inclined to do.  In Season 3, Episode 12: I Married Marge, Homer and Marge have the following exchange:

Marge: Homer, if the baby's a boy, what do you think about the name Larry?
Homer: Marge, we can't do that. All the kids will call him Larry Fairy.
M: How about Louie?
H: They'll call him Screwy Louie.
M: Bob?
H: Slob.
M: Luke?
H: Puke.
M: Marcus?
H: Mucus.
M: What about Bart?
H: Hmm, let's see. Bart, Cart, Dart, E-art... nope, can't see any problem with that.

Truly, these are parental role models.
Every name my wife brings up, I have a stupid nickname that ruins it.

Rather than ruin names for anyone in the process of picking and/or having already picked and applied to his or her offspring, suffice it to say that I am not a fun person to pick names out with as a rule.

I like old-school names.  I know some of them are weird and, don't worry, my wife isn't going to allow me to saddle our baby girl with something like Edna, Edith, Mabel, Hazel, Blanche, Sophia, Rose, or Dorothy.
Okay, so I may have been thinking
of The Golden Girls
But there is something funny to me about the idea of a kindergarten lousy with Ediths and Ednas and the like.  Although, what will probably be even funnier is in 60 years when they are populated with a bunch of Brittanies and Ambers and Tiffanies.  

Adding insult to injury are these lists of the most popular baby names of the year.  Every time I think we've narrowed the field (Sophia was a front-runner for a while) I see it crop up on a list of most popular baby names of the year, such as:

BabyCenter --> (my wife's name is #1)
USA_Today --> (Sophia is #1 from 2011) --> (Isabella...another former contender is #1) --> (Heck...even Social Security confirms it)

But if you go the other extreme and try and intentionally be different, you run into other problems.

It's a thin line between "unique" and "weird."  There have been studies that show having too unique a name can mess with a kid's self esteem and perception.  But I always liked having a name that no one else I knew had...

(Brief name on my birth certificate is Nathaniel Brendan.  Which isn't too shabby.  But unless you are going to berate little children into pronouncing "Na-than-yul" repeatedly, it will, without a doubt, become truncated.  Which it did.  Almost immediately upon stepping into Kindergarten.  Which was made most excellent by the arrival of this guy on the scene:
And people wonder why I'm is right in the title
The other options I had were to allow other people to choose my nickname for me.  And while "Goodyear" and "Staypuft" were both charming and delightful [yes, I was really called those by I'm not over it, thanks for asking] most people would shorten it to "Nathan" or the inevitable "Nat."  And while there have been plenty of great Nats -- okay, I can only think of Nat King Cole, but I'm sure there were more -- whenever I heard people call me Nat I always thought of this:
And so I became Nate.  There was nothing fancy about the decision process.  It was monosyllabic, easy to write (you try writing 9 letters + 4 at the top of every paper you ever had to hand in and see how you like it) and it didn't remind me of a bug.  But I digress.)

...I can only imagine being one of the dozens of Michaels, Chrises or Johns who I now work with and wondering constantly if someone is trying to get my attention.

Once we do ultimately land on a name, we're going to be one of those obnoxious couples who aren't telling anyone until we introduce her to the world.  Primarily because everyone has an opinion on the subject and, as you can tell, I already have enough anxiety about the decision as it is.

I may just take on the clever approach of my very wise cousin, who, after each person asked if she had chosen a name yet, she told them--

"Oh, yes.  We're naming him after you."

This went over splendidly with my myriad of uncles and male cousins as she was having a boy.  But poor Aunt Bernadette just walked away confused.

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