Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What's in a Name?

A pregnant friend recently found out that she's having a boy. She and her husband both wanted a girl this time, a sibling to their adorable three-year old boy. Until now, she had been thinking of girl names: Sydney, Peyton, and Sophia. Since she's having a boy she wanted to know if I had any ideas for boy names and I told her I’d think about it.

To start, I looked up the most popular boy names of 2006 according applications submitted to Social Security. Here they are, in ranking order:

Christopher *

For the most part those are nice, solid names for a boy. Of all of them I like Christopher the best because it’s versatile (the boy could be called Christopher or Chris) and also because I have a cousin who's always made me laugh with the same name. On the other hand, I’d be hard-pressed to name any kid Anthony because it’s such a common name and also because I had a really lousy manager named Anthony who made me cry at work (not in front of him, thank goodness, because it might have freaked him out; I cried in the ladies’ restroom). It’s amazing how our choice in names is influenced by people we’ve had in our lives.

On my drive home from work the other night, I thought about all the names that I’ve liked throughout the years. Oh, there were some horrendous ones:

Tzeitel Anastasia - During 8th grade, we read and watched Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye's (the main character's) oldest daughter was named Tzeitel: the one who was in love with the tailor named Motel Kamzoil. Anyway, she had been promised to a fat old butcher named Lazar Wolf in the beginning of the play, and when Tevye found out that she was in love with Motel Kamzoil he broke off the engagement by making up a dream where his dead mother came to him told him that Tzeitel should marry a man named Motel Kamzoil. The fact that I can spell all these names correctly is a little scary but I really loved that musical. With songs like If I Were a Rich Man and Matchmaker Matchmaker, how could I not? I added Anastasia as an extra flourish.

Chantal Giselle - There was a period in my life when I was obsessed with French names. Of course, I always like the unique ones, ones that you didn’t hear too often, hence Chantal. Sounds tragic and romantic at the same time, no? I also liked Chloe but only the way it’s spelled and not the way it’s pronounced – like Zoey, a name I don’t like.

When picking out these names I wanted them be unique, but now I realize that names should symbolize something and be unique, but not so unique that they get teased in school. I mean, can you imagine the horrible teasing Tzeitel Anastasia would get from other kids and the number of teachers and principals that would mispronounce the name? Unless you lived in Russia before the Cultural Revolution, of course.

Speaking of weird names, I have come across some that have either grated my nerves or made me laugh:

Nimrod - Seriously, someone had this name at a company I used to work for. I don’t even want to know how many jokes were told at this poor guy’s expense. His last name was Johnson – I kid you not!

Tolu - A girl from Peru (named Tolu – hey that rhymes) was in my third grade class. She sat next to me and liked to talk but I always got into trouble, not her. She had a thick accent that sounded like Penelope Cruz.

Priscilla - Only drag queens should have this name, plus the nicknames are horrible - Prissy or Cilla, anyone?

Cherry/Apple: It’s only recently that fruit names have become acceptable (or have they?). Gwyneth Paltrow naming her daughter Apple didn’t come as a big surprise to me – I once had a neighbor named Apple and friends from school named Cherry (Cherry is a pretty common Filipino name). I like both names but Cherry bothers me, only because teenage boys can be crass and might joke about “popping the cherry.” Gross!

After all that, I'm probably the last person she wants to consult for a baby name, but there's a few months left to think about the right name for her new baby. Good luck!

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