Originally Published: December 8, 2017 6 a.m.
It’s a dreaded holiday tradition. Couples who are expecting a child (or trying to conceive) receive unsolicited naming ideas (some casually suggested, some “suggested” with intense pressure) at family gatherings.
(Scholars claim the name “Adam” means “man of the earth.” I suspect God INTENDED it to mean “Thank Me there are no grandpas to be devastated - devastated! - if he’s not named for THEM.”)
Frankly, our preoccupation with selecting the perfect baby name is a lowering of the bar for mankind. We’ve gone from “I can navigate by the stars” and “I can build a log cabin from scratch” to “I can spot a trendy name with one hand tied behind my back. No, wait - not my cappuccino-holding hand!”
I might glance at one of those “Name Your Baby” books out of morbid curiosity, but they’ve actually been rendered quite quaint in this gender-fluid age. Look for them to be shoved aside by an explosion of books such as “10,000 PRONOUNS To Use For Your Baby.” (“If you zou pou WHATEVER read only one book this year...”)
Some parents obsess over a fancy name in order to kickstart their little cherub’s life with heft and gravitas. But as kids accumulate nicknames, such efforts will prove futile. (“Hey, gang -- here comes Montague ‘Angel Soft Trailing From His Shoe’ Worthington III!”)
Ironically, many mothers insist on a name that will make the little bundle of joy MEMORABLE, even if they can’t remember the name of the FATHER. (“Troy? Mike? Motel 6...?”)
Narcissistic parents like to saddle their offspring with quirky spellings of fairly common names. Karma can be devastating. (“Yes, I signed the ‘Do not resuscitate’ order. Me, ‘Molly with a Q’.”)
There are too many hippie wannabes who give their children painfully offbeat names. (“Time for your nap, Late For Supper.” “I asked you not to call me that!”)
Our hubris knows no bounds. (“I’m going to name my baby for the singer who has 12 platinum albums, two billion Twitter followers and a Nobel Prize. Shhhh...don’t let anybody steal my idea!”)
Don’t get me started on the proliferation of made-up ethnic-sounding names. (“Hey! Long time, no see. What’s up?” “Just keepin’ it faux, my man - just keepin’ it faux.”)
Of course, some parents take the opposite approach and are determined to give their child a time-tested, rock-solid name so he or she doesn’t draw UNDUE ATTENTION. (“Here comes ol’ Bob. Good, reliable, down-to-earth Bob.” “Who?” “Bob - the guy with three mommies!”)
I know alliteration, number of syllables and other factors subtly affect the appeal of a name; but for the most part, our perceptions of names are arbitrary. We might grudgingly forgive people of a certain era for having segregated schools or institutionalizing the mentally ill, but thinking that “Elmer” or “Ida” were cool names???
Yes, lots of parents overthink the naming. Others are oblivious to potential problems. Suggestion: if your last name is Dorfman, don’t name the tyke Thomas Uriah Reginald. Just saying.
At least be flexible. Some parents treat it like an immutable law that the baby must have at least one name that comes from way back in the genealogy - even if the ancestor might have been a horse thief with the mental aptitude of a turnip. (“I named my son for something I found in the family tree book. Here comes little Silverfish now!”)
Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”