Name That Baby!
I’m not usually a very intuitive person, but when I was pregnant, I suddenly became deeply sensitive to the life form growing within me. With every ounce of my being, I knew, knew that I was having a boy. Since I was so convinced, Bill and I got serious about choosing a boy’s name first. Boys names are tough, especially if you pride yourself on being creative, original, and utterly cool and hip — as Bill and I do.
The Search for a Boy’s Name
We began the search. One of the problems is that the baby’s last name was not going to be short and easy (like Lutz), it was going to be long, and difficult to spell. Let’s keep the first name short, I thought. I pored through baby name books, burning the midnight oil, making notes. Finally, I was ready to present my list to Bill. My favorites were Max, Ben, Sam, and Jack.
Unfortunately, Max and Ben are members of my family, and in our cultural tradition, you don’t name a baby after somebody, unless that somebody is dead.
Sam’s last name would begin with an “s,” and all those esses were a little too snaky sounding.
And Jack was my dearly beloved late grandfather, but there already was a Joshua Jack.
Anyway, Bill wasn’t crazy about Max, Ben, Sam, and Jack. So scratch those.
Finally, we came up with the perfect name: Jasper! We were ecstatic, it satisfied all our needs. “J” for my grandfather Jack. We’d call him “Jazz” for short. He’d be cool. He’d be hip. He’d be easy to spell. And when he wanted to be sophisticated or square, he’d be “Jasper.”
That solved, I made a fatal mistake. One of my favorite cousins, cool, hip, and very snotty, asked me what we were going to name the baby. I brought the name out as though I was presenting it on a silver platter.
“Jasper,” I said, shyly. I think I blushed.
“Jasper!??!” Favorite Cousin sneered, crushing me utterly. “Jasper is a dog’s name.”
Back to the drawing board.
The Search for a Girl’s Name
Ramona? Hannah? Sasha? Emily? Madeline? Chloe? Zoe? Girls names are relatively easy, especially if you name her after a relative. Remember, in order to do that, we had to find somebody dead. Sadly, Bill’s mother had passed away a dozen years earlier, leaving beautiful memories and a terrific name available: Annie.
We loved it. Annie is friendly, Annie is plucky, Annie is a word people like to say, because it leaves their faces in a smile when they are done. But Annie is a nickname, not a name to win Nobel Prizes, author doctoral dissertations, or become the President of the United States with. (Not that we have any expectations on our child, oh no.) And, no offense to you Anns out there, but Ann is boring and Plain Jane (sorry, Janes).
We worked backwards. Anita, Anna, Anya, Anais, Annique, Annette, Antibia…. what could shorten to Annie? Aha: Anaya! Unusual, original, sophisticated, mysterious. When she was a child, she could be cheery, friendly Annie. As a brooding adolescent, she could be Anaya, with red nails, soulful eyes, and a rose clutched between her teeth.
As we were now experienced baby name choosers, we decided to keep our choice a deep, dark secret until the baby was born.
The Search for a Boy’s Name, Take Two
I don’t really remember this part of the search — everything had become a big, seasick blur. For a while we concentrated on the pregnancy. As I was blissed out, nauseous, and huge, we dubbed me the Jolly Green Giant. The growing fetus became, of course, the Little Green Sprout.
For few months we were stalled; we had our girls name, the only problem was that I still knew we were having a boy. For a while we flirted with Dillon, the name of a magical creek along the Klamath River in northern Northern California. But “Beverly Hills 90210″ was really hot then, along with a character named Dylan, and I didn’t want anybody — even for a moment — thinking my son was named after him.
Then one of us came up with Alexander. “A” for Bill’s mother. Shortened to Zander, it would be unusual, original, all that. And it sounded good yelled, too. That’s an important aspect of a name. Ask yourself, “How does it sound screamed across a playground?”
Whew. Alexander it was … and, that settled, we were able to continue with the pregnancy.
The Baby is Born
Bed rest, labor, delivery, yada yada yada.
“It’s a girl!”
“It is?” So much for maternal intuition.
And a few minutes later, “What’s her name?”
“Annie. Her name is Anaya, Annie for short.”
We looked at our baby. The name was right. She was an Annie.
A Dogs Name
A couple of days ago I saw a little article in the newspaper about the most common names for dogs listed on the National Pet Registry Database. Remember my original favorites? Max, Ben, Sam, and Jack? Yup. All in the top ten. And Jasper? Not a Jasper in sight.
P.S. Favorite Cousin named his kids after birds.
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