Ernest Hemingway once wrote a six-word short story—For sale: baby shoes, never worn. In a sentence like that every word is doing some lifting. It’s almost poem-like—so much meaning crammed into so small a space, no room for error. I feel this weight everyday between the time my wife tells me she’s pregnant and I’m holding the new little so-and-so.
I have heard of two accounts recently in which couples went to the hospital for delivery without having solidified a name and left the hospital still without a name. This is probably not the most uncommon thing ever, but come on, seriously, get it together. You have nine months to come up with two words or three or four if you’re hyphenating. Who needs that stress post labor?
It is never too early in the process to start vexing your partner. My wife says to me, “I’m pregnant.” I say, “That’s great. How about Ernest?” “Babe, can you hand me my water bottle?” “Maybe if we can name the baby Cormac,” I say. It is a battle of attrition, a battle that you really cannot afford to lose. Trust me, my first son was nearly named Kohan.
First things first
Maybe it’s because—it definitely is—I’m an English major, but every part of a name has to mean something, which automatically cuts out anything like Braxton, Daxton, or Crackerjaxton. One thing to remember: A hell of a lot of people had to survive wolves, military service, and swine flu to allow you a chance at naming this thing. Don’t screw it up, and maybe throw them a bone. Your great grandfather Rex pushed a handcart across the plains? Bring Rexy back. Your second aunt Sylvie marched during the Civil Rights Movement? Endow that child with some strength.
Not another Andrew
Another thing to consider is you don’t want your kid to have the same name as every other kid in the second grade, which means no Liam, no Noah, and definitely no Andrew. You also don’t want to pretend you’re coming up with an original name because you spell it incorrectly, which means no Leeum, no No-uh, and definitely no Anzdroueue. There are thousands of names. Pick one that you hear maybe only a few times a week. Also resist the urge to add Xs and Ys.
Please remember you are naming a child, not wording a child. Use actual names. Tree is not a name. Feather is not a name. Bong is not a name. Give your kids the opportunity to choose for themselves if they want to smoke pot; don’t force it on them.
Passing it on
I was once told that the meat goes in the middle. Thanks, Tom, my favorite sandwich artist. The middle name provides a wonderful opportunity to link generations. At some point your kid is going to hate you, and if you’re a Kevin and you name your kid Kevin (God forbid), he’s going to eventually change his name to Topher or some shit to spite you and make you feel worthless. So if you really want Kev to keep on Kevin’, put the K-word somewhere he can’t find it. Remember, kids are dumb.
Of course, things can’t be quite that easy. You have to look down the road to about seventh grade and think about all the ways the students at your kid’s school are going to shape your child’s name into some kind of sexual activity. So, we’re cutting Venus and Dinah, no Dolores, and no on Lana, nothing like Mildo, not Dusty Mambone. Initials are also dangerous, so absolutely no Beverly Jo.
This isn’t about you. It’s about the kids. They are the ones who have to look up every time you shout their name at a Wal-Mart. Give them something good and decent. Give them a fighting chance. Personally, I’ve got a name picked out that nobody can eff with and seven months to talk my wife into it: Wu-Tang Clan.