Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Name Game

Arthur? Bonnie? Clyde? Daphne?

Many times during the first few years of my marriage, Kathy and I discussed baby names. That being said, most of the discussions involved Kathy wanting to have a discussion and me throwing out silly names. Our last name begins with G, so sometimes I played on what the initials would spell -- Peter Ira, Nora Ashley, Damien Oliver, Beatrice Ursula -- you get the idea. Other times I proposed naming a child after famous people -- for example, Malcolm X comes with the middle initial already on display, and would sound pretty catchy with my long German-Jewish last name. Sometimes I threw out completely wretched names for the simple reason that they're wretched, for example, Millicent and Octavius (apologies to any readers out there with these names -- they're horrible because of our last name, but I'm sure they're great for you).

Needless to say, most of these conversations ended as soon as Kathy decided that it was better to drop the subject. (Actually that's wrong -- she wanted the conversations to end at that point, but I would torment her with additional awful names until she cut me off with one of her infamous "tones," which she's stopped using on me but which I expect to reappear by the time junior is 6). Despite all the inane attempts at humor I tried during these many dialogues, we did occasionally stumble across names that connected, but it's fair to say that we haven't made any decisions yet. And though there's still lots of time, it's an issue that looms on our big event horizon.

In deciding on the names, I'm encountering two problems. The first is what I learned when we bought our car -- in our family, names can stick. At the dealership while we were completing the paperwork, Kathy said we needed to name the car. I thought this was silly, but she insisted. "Ok," I said. "Fluffy." She said ok, the discussion was over, and so, for the past 4 1/2 years we've owned a car named Fluffy.

The second problem is that this time playing the name game actually matters. The kid will have enough trauma in life as it is -- the last thing I want to do is add to it needlessly. I don't want to give the kid a name s/he won't like, or that one out of every three same-gendered kids in her/his class will have. Should we wait until the baby is born, to find out if he looks like a Stewart or she responds to Penelope?

Fortunately, the web is a great resource, and by typing in "how to" name baby, I came up with approximately 92 million hits (no exaggeration -- try it yourself), which has to be at least as many hits as there are potential names. Because I'm lazy and didn't want to check each site, I decided to select the name by clicking on the first one, which provides a simple checklist for how to pick a baby name. Kathy's been very busy with all sorts of baby things, so I decided to take it upon myself to review the process, and figured I'd let her know what the winners are.

Applying this simple checklist yields some useful results. The winners are [censored for fear that a wayward attempt to be humorous, witty or sarcastic will result in the equivalent of Fluffy G].