There’s always a standard list of questions that people ask when they find out you’re pregnant (or, rather, your wife is).
- When’s it due?
- Do you know the sex?
- Do you have names picked out?
- And for the more daring ones—was it was planned?
We’ve been getting those questions a lot, and our answers have become pretty standardized already. Early July. We won’t know the sex. Yes, it was planned.
And when we get the name question, we play it like coy assholes. Yes, we have names picked out for either a boy or girl, but we’re not telling anyone.
Some people get that. You have a name picked out that you like. Both of you think it’ll be adorable on your little crotch monkey. You tell someone what you’re naming the kid, and they make a face. “I knew an Adrianne* in middle school. She was a biznatch,” they say. All of a sudden, that name you had picked out is ruined. And then there’s the other people who just think you’re a coy asshole when you don’t tell them.
*This is not one of the names we have picked out. Don’t try searching for clues. You’re not getting one.
So, even though we’re not telling anyone, I still wanted to talk about my baby naming theories. Because theorizing on unimportant stuff is just fun.
We know a whole bunch of people who have named their baby Jack in recent years. Or they named it something close and are calling him Jack. And I don’t think it’s because of The Incredibles. I’ve also seen several recurrences of names like Ruth and Esther and Henry and other names that we’ve normally associated with someone sitting in an outdated armchair, head back and snoring loudly while Matlock is on the television. And I don’t think this is on accident, either.
I think these names are being chosen precisely because nobody knew a Jack in middle school who was a douchewad, or worked with some asshat named Ruth or Dorothy. To so many people my age who are now having babies, Henry was the nice old man on Punky Brewster. Ruth and Dorothy and Rose were the cool ladies on Golden Girls. Or even better, those people were our own grandparents or the kind older people down the street who gave us cookies and smiled at us on our bicycles. Those names don’t have the same chance to carry the negative associations that other names do—names that were popular when we were growing up. It’s more likely that we knew a shitty person named Jacob or Amber than someone named Jack or Esther.
It’s probably a similar reason that people give their kids
weird unique names or awkward creative spellings of established names. Maybe the name Joseph reminds you of the kid who gave you a wedgie in the lunch line, but you never knew a Geosiph or a Joecef. And you sure as hell never knew an Apple or a Pilot or a Serenity. I don’t necessarily get this strategy myself, but hey, some people really dig that kinda thing. I think you open kids up for a lot of tormenting that way (which countries like New Zealand and Sweden agree with, and thus keep parents from giving their kids outlandish names), but their kids aren’t my problem. Not till college, anyway.
As a dad-to-be, it’s kind of interesting now to see what people name their kids. Last year, we saw the Freakonomics documentary that talked about the tie between names and eventual success in life, which kind of got our attention and led us to have a few rules.
- Nothing that could easily be the name of a stripper.
- Nothing that would make people laugh out loud if they saw it on a résumé.
- Nothing that rhymes with our last name.
And with those ground rules in place, we set about getting names. Sadly, my wife instituted another one:
- No comic book characters.
There goes my plans…