|Bless your heart, Alabama. Your daddy is named Shooter. It was inevitable.|
And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to my home state with a great scene from "The Sopranos;" Christopher's intervention:
Drea's great as the doomed Adrianna, but I love Steve Van Zandt as Silvio: "Your hair was in the toilet water. Disgusting."
Sorry for that major digression, let me get back to the names. Growing up, I really didn't like my name because it was so different. I desperately wanted to be named Jennifer or Kim or Michelle or Allison or something normal that didn't cause everyone to break into song when I introduced myself. Unless your name is Clementine, you can't imagine. Ha, ha, ha! Yes, you are the first person to sing, "Oh, Susanna!" to me. Congratulations on your originality.
Now I kind of like that my name is more unusual, however people do get it wrong all the time. Just yesterday, I had a doctor's appointment and continued to read a magazine while the nurse called out, "Savannah! Savannah!" about five times. I looked up and realized I was the only woman in the waiting room under the age of 50, which was a pretty good sign that she was talking about me. Have you ever met anyone over 40 named Savannah? I mean, Savannah Guthrie might be the original Savannah. I respect Savannah Guthrie because her name could have destined her to become a waitress at Cracker Barrel, but instead she's the co-host of the Today Show. I know this is mean, but the judgy, judgy in me makes up all these unfair assumptions about people because of their names. I should learn my lesson because I have known a Fawn, a Cinnamon, and a couple of Summer and despite my original expectations, not one was in pageants.
Even if you disagree with me, you know what I mean: names might not determine our destinies, but our destinies are informed in some part by our names. Look at these cool Venn Diagrams Gawker made showing the most popular names in 1994 and the overlap between those names and the most common names of current Yale undergraduates (who were born in about 1994):
This shows that, for example, even though Charles was not in the top 25 names in popularity in 1994, it is one of the 25 most common names for current Yale undergraduate men. Compare to a name like Brandon, which was one of the most popular boys names, nationally, but is not among the 25 most popular names at Yale. So, I guess this just reinforces the stereotype that the kids who go to Yale are named after their great-great grandfathers, and not after characters on "Beverly Hills 90210."
I actually think there are two related, but different things going on with the Yale names. The kids who end up matriculating at Yale fall into two main groups. The first group are kids who are legacies and are wealthy or are at least fairly well off. The second group are kids who are brilliant, and may come from more diverse backgrounds. The legacy kids are going to have old-fashioned names because people with Yale pedigrees are the types to give their children old family names. Since it's unlikely that there are a lot of Kaylas or Justins in prior generations, the kids end up with names like Mary and Thomas. If you want a real life example, look no farther than Barbara Bush, the daughter of George W. and Laura Bush, who was named for her grandmother.
|Barbara Pierce Bush, Yale class of 2004.|
In case you were wondering, all of my kids have top 25 Yale names. As far as I can tell, this will probably be their best argument for getting into Yale: "Of course I would be a good fit for Yale. I have the right name." Secondarily, we live in Georgia which must be better than being from New Jersey when it comes to applying for college. When it came to naming my kids, I wanted them to have names that were common enough that they wouldn't have to spell them, but unusual enough that they wouldn't have to go by their first name and last initial all through school. Well, mission accomplished for the girls, not so much for the Boy. He hates having a boring name and has tried out some new monikers for himself. He seems to favor names that end in "x" so that he sounds like one of the Jolie-Pitt boys. I'm sure in 30 years I'll be bouncing my grandsons Chateaux and Crucifix on my knee while their sister Aviatrix plays on the floor.
He really should be glad because I could have done this to him:
Which I think would pretty much wrecka his chances of getting into Yale. That poor woman. I hope she has a decent middle name. I remember seeing a bankruptcy petition years ago where the debtor's first name was LaTrina. (Just say it out loud, you'll get it.) This is a good lesson that adding "La" to a name does not necessarily make it fancier.
I think it's fine to give your kid an unusual name, but there's a fine line between unusual and embarrassing. For instance, the Baby took a music class with a little girl named "Nugget." Guys, the adults snickered at that one. I just don't think you are doing your kid favors by giving them names that you know will be a burden to bear. Being a kid is hard enough without providing bullies with gimmes. Before you write that name on the birth certificate form, say it a few times out loud. Think about whether it sounds like a character from a James Bond movie. Consider how the first and last name sound when you say them together. Possibly Google the name to make sure it isn't slang for some kind of drug or Irish prostitutes (I should have done this, but the Girl can go by her middle name if she visits Ireland.) If you want a cautionary tale, think about how much easier it would have been for this kid if his parents had gone through these exercises before settling on this moniker:
Have you all come across any names that made you wonder what someone was thinking?