Spring is here! And that means babies! You may be one of the many humans that are expecting a baby soon. As someone who neither has children nor finds them particularly interesting, I feel eminently qualified to provide you with truly objective advice in regard to naming your baby!
The first thing to remember when naming your baby is you are naming a human being and not a horse. This is a fact that some people seem to forget, mostly people in the entertainment industry. Though, just to take a momentary diversion here, if we could have an Entertainment Industry Baby Kentucky Derby, here would be my choices for the qualifiers along with the odds that when they grow up they’ll still be on speaking terms with their parents:
1) Kal-El 3-1 (by Nicholas Cage)
2) Pilot Inspecktor 50-1 (by Jason Lee)
3) Summer Rain 50-1 (out of Christina Aguilera)
4) Sage Moonblood 7-2 (by Sylvester Stallone)
5) Rumer Glen 15-1 (by Bruce Willis, out of Demi Moore)
6) Ocean 40-1 (by Forest Whitaker)
7) Rocket 12-1 (by Robert Rodriguez)
8) Blue Angel 40-1 (by The Edge)
9) Audio Science 50-1 (out of Shannyn Sossamon)
10) Moxie Crimefighter 1-1 (by Penn Jillette)
11) Tu Morrow 50-1 (by Rob Morrow)
12) Jermajesty 20-1 (by Jermaine Jackson)
13) Ode Mountain 40-1 (out of Jenna Malone)
14) Rainbow Aurora 12-1 (out of Holly Madison)
15) Fifi Trixibelle 2-1 (by Bob Geldof)
16) Memphis Eve 30-1 (by Bono)
17) Royal Reign 30-1 (out of Lil’ Kim, by Mr. Papers)
18) Titan Jewell 20-1 (out of Kelly Rowland, by Twice A Prince)
19) Bronx Mowgli 7-1 (out of Ashlee Simpson)
20) Banjo 30-1 (out of Rachel Griffiths, by Cigar)
As far as still speaking to their parents when they reach adulthood, my money is on the two favorites Moxie Crimefighter and Fifi Trixibelle, just because they have pizzazz. If this was an actual race, though, I’d have to go with the progeny of The Edge, Bono, Lil’ Kim, and Mr. Papers as I’m pretty sure those four are actually horses.
Many elements go into naming a baby. We’ve covered stupidity and whimsy already. Another key ingredient is narcissism. People who are equally as famous as those mentioned above, and equally wealthy, but with far more boring jobs, have a propensity for going in the other direction, which is just as bad. That is naming their child after them and just slapping a Roman numeral after it. This is mean. I personally don’t care for people-names with Roman numerals after them. I don’t think it’s fair to the child to have a number after his or her name unless they happen to be the ruler of a European country. A child should have a name separate from either of their parents so as to be allowed to have their own identity. Despite living a life of affluence, I can only sympathize with someone who had to go through life with a name like John D. Rockefeller: The Sequel, or worse yet, someone who found himself really far down the line from the original, as in the case of John Jacob Astor 6.0. Assuming you are the child, being named after your father (and we all know it’s pretty much a Mini Me guy thing) also dooms you to a lifetime of being known as “Little” something-or-other and your father “Big” something-or-other, which never goes away even when you get big enough to beat the crap out of him for not giving you your own name. This is not helpful for developing a healthy self-esteem. I would cite as an example the Roman Emperor Caligula. The word “Caligula” means “Little Boots.” If you were called Little Boots all your life you’d be pretty unpleasant too once given the opportunity to be so, especially to whoever called you Little Boots.
While every parent wants their child to eventually stand out from the crowd, it’s important that your child start off life by fitting in. If not fitting in, then at least going unnoticed, to avoid getting beaten up by other children named Biff. Of course, making sure your child is given a name that helps them fit in can be taken too far as well, which is why you shouldn’t call your son Grub even if you’re Jane Goodall and everyone you know is a chimpanzee. Grub is not a career-growth oriented name and some day he may want to leave the jungle treehouse, move to the city, get a high paying job, and date a human woman. Two of these four things will be a challenge for someone named Grub.
Depending on what your child does for a living when they grow up, there are rare though fortuitous times when your thoughtless naming of them can actually work out well. Kennesaw Mountain Landis comes to mind. He was a judge and then later the commissioner of baseball back in the day when baseballs were made out of wood. His father named him after the place where he had been wounded in the Civil War. Obviously his father was a jerk, but at least he didn’t name his son The Groin. While this weighty name must have been a struggle to deal with as a child, it’s a great name if you’re a judge and/or the commissioner of baseball as it emphasizes the fact that you will always have the last word in any negotiation just in case anybody who has to deal with you is confused about this beforehand. Of course, if he’d grown up to be a fashion designer he’d always be known around the office as just “Kenny”. Maybe Mr. Kenny, if he was really good at fashion design.
The problem is that you don’t know what your child is going to end up doing for a career or how successful they will be. This is why you need to play it close to the vest and give them an average, less than dynamic name that will allow them to maintain their dignity when they become a failure.
I’ve always been intrigued by Native American surnames that carry on the tradition of actual nouns and verbs making up the name. For example, a woman’s surname I came across just recently at work was Slaps A Bear. This is a pretty cool name. It does, however, lose something if your parents have named you Phoebe, as was the case here. My advice to Native American parents would be to go all the way in the naming of your child in the traditional sense, and rather than going with Phoebe or Julie or something else European for the purpose of your child fitting in so as to avoid getting beaten up by girls named Brandi, try something like Godzilla Woman. Godzilla Woman Slaps A Bear is a cool name. Also it encourages your daughter to be constantly aware of her proud Asian heritage.
It’s important to take into account your last name before giving your child a first name. The classic error here is Ima Hogg. She was a real person, and a great philanthropist, giving away great amounts of her fortune. If she could have given away her name I’m sure she would have. I wonder if she was trying to buy her way out of embarrassment–kind of like the way Andrew Carnegie tried to buy himself out of going to hell. I digress. Another example? Heidi is a really good name to give your child, especially if you’re of Nordic ancestry, but not so much if you’re famous Hawaiian crooner Don Ho. So use your head.
Hippie names are right out. If someone asks you what you plan to name your baby, and when you tell them, you feel a wonderful glow inside and you have a beatific smile on your face, then it’s a stupid name. I once met someone named Sunshine. This is a cruel thing to name your child because you’re dooming her to a life of only being able to have one emotion–tranquilized joy. And if she is ever able to summon true sadness, no one will ever be able to comfort her by saying, “Why so glum, Sunshine?” without an ironic smirk on their face.
Here’s a few more random tips to keep in mind when naming your baby:
Don’t name your daughter Chastity unless you know how to spell it and are aware there are two T’s in it. Also, don’t name your daughter Chastity.
Cassandra is a good name for a girl, unless she develops a process for cold fusion, in which case no one will believe her.
Don’t name your son Boris. Or Adolph. Or Hermann Goering.
Don’t name your child D’jango, Placido, Elvis, Rudyard, Aretha, Che, Fidel, Igor, Bathsheba, Jiminy, or Evita because you have some sort of ill-defined infatuation with the actual person or their name. These are one-time names and they’ve been used up.
Don’t name your son Edsel and then name the worst car you’ve ever designed in his honor.
In Germany they have an agency that reviews baby names. Really. I remember hearing an interview on the radio with the head of it. When asked why Germany has such an agency, he said, “We feel it’s important that the child not be given a stupid name.” That’s what he said–not making it up. I think we should have the same. We could have a really big group of people who are in charge of reviewing or making up baby names. And then we could have a somewhat larger group of people who are actually in charge of making babies. There’ll be a quiz for both to see if you qualify. It has just one question, and it’s multiple choice. Here it is:
After being stable for ten thousand years, most of the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica has just recently disintegrated. This was most likely caused by–
a) Human emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide
c) An evil witch
d) Who cares?
Take your time. And good luck.