Monday, June 08, 2015

Baby, Baby, Baby

Not having had kids, one thing I never had to do was figure out what to name the baby. My choice, no doubt, would have been traditional and/or Irish. Elizabeth. Mairead. Alex. Liam. (Alex would have been after my father, whose name was Albert, a name which he hated. It’s really not a name that anyone should burden a child with, even though, as nicknames go, Al isn’t bad. The story was that my father was named after some habituĂ© of my grandfather’s saloon. On the day of my father’s birth, his father was telling the barfly that he had a new son. Supposedly, the barfly said “why don’t you name him after me?” And so he did. I give the story some credence because this is a family long on naming babies after other family members, and Albert just wasn’t on the list anywhere. My father by no means got the worst name of his generation. He had a first cousin named Bertha Hanratty, who died in early childhood. It might have been the name...)

Anyway, although I’ve never personally done the honors, I’m always interested in what people name their children – especially when the names are way out there, completely preposterous, and are going to doom their bearers to living up to them and/or having to explain the spelling of their daffy name over and over and over again.

The Social Security Administration publishes an annual list of popular baby names, and the extended list includes all names given to at least five lucky newborns. Huff Po culled through the list and picked out the Top/Bottom Winners/Losers. Here goes, America. You’ve really done yourself (and your offspring) proud!

Billion is the name that five parents chose for their bouncing baby boys – ever to aspire! – while eleven settled on a more pedestrian goal for theirs by calling him Million. Billion can, of course, go by just plain Bill. But a boy named Million? I guess, as Milli Vanilli showed us, you can use the nickname Milli. But a Billion here, a Million there. Pretty soon it all adds up to too many people who care only about the Benjamins.

Lay Has the unfortunate term “a good lay” fallen so far out of usage that there are people out there who’d actually name their daughters Lay? And actually spell it this way. Maybe they’re retros, who’ve fallen under the spell of Bob Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay.”

Dagger My friend Sean has a grandson named Jagger, and the baby actually managed to get baptized in a Catholic Church. But as Sean pointed out, he got to name his kids, not theirs. (When my cousin Ellen and her friends started having grandkids, they wisely decided that they would never second guess or make fun of – other than in their own heads – the names that anyone’s grandkids were given. Fortunately for Ellen, her grandchildren all have perfectly fine and normal names that are also interesting. It can be done!) In addition to all the little Daggers on the loose, there are now five kids named Renegade. (Be careful what you wish for!)

Common is becoming more common, probably due to hip-hop artist who uses that handle. I’d rather think it was an anti-reaction to all those Billions and Millions out there, and the rampant narcissism in today’s society. Still, it’s hard to think of a less self-esteemy name. Perhaps next year, Uncommon will come into vogue.

Payzley And I thought that Paisley was bad enough. Why would anyone give their kid a name that no one can spell? One thing if it’s a real name that no one can spell – like Seamus – but a fake name? Let’s just hope there’s no one out there who named their daughter Payzley Lay. Although it works for Pele, I really don’t think the name Pay Lay is wise.

Dead Presidents. Sort of. If you’re going to name your daughter McKinley, you really shouldn’t cutesie it up with Mickinley. But five parents chose to do so. Another five named their daughters Kennydi. Clinton or Sanders might make okay names, but let’s hope that neither Mike Huckabee nor Rick Santorum is elected president. Not that there isn’t sufficient reason for that to happen already, even without the prospect of helpless children being named after them.

Londynne is the latest spelling variant for children being called London. I’m sure there are all sorts of variants to Brooklyn – which just lends itself to mixing up the spelling – out there as well. Other place names that made the list included Everest and Verona. Ugh!

Sadman Really? Sadman? I hope that this is an Arabic name, a various on Saddam which, like Adolf, one would hope has wandered into the baby name wilderness from which there is no return. If not, is there anything sadder than the thought a parent looking into their baby’s face and saying ‘He’s such a little sad man.”

Excel was the name given to five girls. Better than Billion. Yet still…Who would name their child after a Microsoft product? What’s next, boys names PowerPoint?

Ruckus will no doubt what your baby will raise at some point in time, but why raise the odds by naming him that? Let’s hope these little guys don’t end up friends with Dagger and Renegade. No telling what might happen.

Lay. Ruckus. Dead Presidents. Life’s hard enough without having to go through it with an awful name. I know, I know. Some folks want their kids to stand out, to be unique. But there are other ways to stand out: accomplishment, character, personality. Take it from one of the many Maureens in my high school class: it can be done.

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