Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Marks & Procreation, a.k.a. The List Of Baby Names

For some reason, several of my friends were really feeling naughty in late September/early October 2010. In the last month alone, no fewer than nine of my friends have brought magical little bundles of joy (babies, not Cadbury eggs) into the world. My birthday is in late October so that couldn't have been the reason, which is kind of a relief since that's a weird gift. My theory is that my peer group is of the age when we're beginning to attend our 10-year high school reunions. Thus, after a night of getting together with your old gang, you're going back to your significant other and doing the nasty because a) your old high school nemesis' life has gone to hell and you're feeling really superior or b) you're thinking about how good your high school crush will looks. Or, because of true love, whatever.

This spate of babies has got me thinking about becoming a father myself. Not the actual parenting or raising of the child, of course, but naming it. It's like being in a band --- the actual playing, rehearsing, setting up your gear, etc. is a real pain, but coming up with a name is tons of fun. Hopefully when/if I actually do procreate, my interest in the child will actually continue on past the naming process, or else I'd just be a real deadbeat.

With this in mind, here's the proposed method of how my future babymama and I will decide upon a name. We'll each submit a list of potential handles and if there's any crossover, those names will go on the shortlist. The shortlist will then be whittled down via further arguing, which in a worst-case scenario may result in tears and/or openly shared regrets about why we're even having this child in the first place. But geez, let's hope it doesn't come to THAT. Hopefully we'll both have one name that is an immediate favourite and the decision will take five seconds. If not, we'll both compromise by saddling our child with a name that neither of us wants, like 'Llywelyn' or 'Bertha.' Sure, our child may be the victim in this scenario, but....well, perhaps it's good that my child-rearing days are still a ways away. Also, if you're reading this and your name is actually Llywelyn or Bertha, I'm not even going to apologize. Those are terrible names. Why haven't you changed them?

We'll alternate between male and female names and we'll just stick to alphabetical order instead of listing them by actual preference, since that would require extra thought on my part. Also, um, there are 22 names each. I simply cannot do anything without being long-winded. Babymama, you're just going to have to get used to this about me.

Also, if you're my friend and are secretly offended that I'm not naming my child after you, chill out. In my mind, you've already used that name up. For instance, my buddy Trev is the ultimate 'Trevor,' so bringing another important Trevor into my life would be too confusing. It would be like if the Isaiah Thomas who plays for Washington went on to play his pro basketball with the Detroit Pistons. Also, I don't want to get into a game of naming a kid after one friend and then having the other friends get all offended that they weren't honoured in a similar way. For one, I don't want to have a dozen kids to cover everyone. Secondly, these offended friends could name their future kids 'Mark Sucks' in revenge, which isn't fair to either me or their child. Now, a few friends DO have their names show on the list, but it's not in any specific tribute to you, I just dig your name. Capiche?

(If my parents are reading this, relax Mom and Dad, this is all theoretical. I'm picturing my mother sitting down at her laptop with a cup of tea, noticing that her son has a post called 'Baby Names' and spit-taking all over the screen.)

Calvin -- Yup, it's largely because of "Calvin & Hobbes." There are worse things than naming your son after the greatest comic strip of all time. It's not like I'd be naming him 'Hobbes' or "Calvin's Dad,' since those would be a stretch. But, Calvin is an awesome name. I feel it's due for a revival. You can either go with the short form of Cal, or branch out and go by 'Vin.'

Andrea -- Overall solid option here. I feel like I know a few Andreas, but not too many, so it's a common name but not overused. For instance, 'Lindsay' and all of its variations are right out. Sorry, all 683 Lindseys/Lindsays/Lyndseys/Linseys I know.

Casper -- This one is low on the list simply because of the pop culture baggage. I feel like that damn Bill Pullman Casper movie ruined this name for another generation. Also, given that it'd be my son, there's a very high probability he'll end up being bald and pale, so he'll actually look like Casper the Friendly Ghost in human form. It will probably take until at least 2025 until parents can safely name their boys Casper again, which is too bad since it's a thoroughly solid name.

Ashley -- Another low entry on the girls' list. It might be a bit 'too' commonplace. I have a friend who was named Ashley but her parents decided, like, five minutes after the birth certificate was signed that they preferred the middle name instead, so they just called her by her middle name for the rest of her life. Ashley isn't a BAD name or anything, but c'mon, surely I can come up with something more creative than that. At the very least, I could shorten is to Ash in a living tribute to Bruce Campbell.

Charles -- Obviously shortened to Charlie or possibly Chuck.

Christy -- This is the first of a few instances where I'd insist on a specific spelling of a name. I'm not wild about Christie, but I do enjoy Christy. "Mark, are you insisting on this spelling due to that deaf girl from Survivor?" No, of course not. "Mark, are you insisting on this spelling due to Christy Mathewson?" Uh, well, yes. Moving on...

Clark -- I'll get to the logistics of naming a child after yourself later, but a rhyming name has similar pratfalls. I won't lie, Clark may be on here in large part because of Superman. Honestly, after reading Secret Identity, I may have to be talked out giving him Kent as a middle name just on the off-chance that he randomly develops superpowers.

Colleen -- Here we go, a good solid girls' name. It's easy to imagine a Prime Minster Colleen, or a Dr. Colleen. You rarely find hookers or strippers named Colleen, at least according to that census I sent to the brothel.

Daniel -- He'd go by Dan or Danny, the latter only if Aaron Sorkin ends up narrating his life.

Dana -- Interestingly, Dana was also a tough cut from the list of boys' names. Yes, that's right, this list of 44 names had a previous round of cuts. As I said, I overthink things.

Darren -- Good name, decent name, solid name. Get outta here with your Daryn or Daren spellings. Uh, except for one guy I know whose name is actually Daren...well great, now I've offended someone.

Grace -- Big-time candidate here. I'd have the birth song all set, a lifetime of 'Say goodnight, Gracie' jokes and it's just a lovely name all-around.

Desmond -- I suspect my temporary infatuation with this name will fade the longer LOST is off the air. Hey, give me a break, it's not like I'm naming my kid Eko or Smoke Monster. Fun story: my friend Jo and her boyfriend have been watching the show and, in a separate conversation, mentioned they already have their future kids' names picked out as James and Kate. So of course, I chime in about Sawyer and Kate from LOST and their eyes just widened. Now, James and Kate are both common enough that I think my mind wouldn't have jumped there had we not just been discussing LOST, but even still, it's probably bad mojo to name a brother and sister after two characters who have had sex in a cage on a jungle island.

Gwen -- Aha, here's one that is NOT a pop culture reference. Gwen Stacy was way before my time as a Spider-Man reader, I just like the name. I have some vague recollection that I had a dream once where I had a daughter named Gwen. This was not, I should note, my legendary dream about the wedding between my daughter and my buddy Trev's daughter. There's another reason why I can't name my son after Trev; he'll take on even greater importance in my life if he's going to be my daughter's future father-in-law.

Eddie -- This one is not a top choice, but I respect how this name can be adjusted throughout one's life. When you're a kid, you're Little Eddie! Then you can either stick with Eddie throughout your life if you're laid-back, or you can move to the more professional Edward. Then, once you hit 60, you're legally obligated to switch to Ed since that's just a perfect old guy name. Note: if you go with Edward as a teenager or when you're in your 20s, you're a douchebag, a vampire or a douchey vampire.

Heather -- Fun fact: did you know there's a short form for Heather? I have a friend named Heather known as 'The Heaz.' While this theoretically makes no sense, 'Chaz' doesn't make much sense as a short form for Charles either, so I'll roll with it.

Grant -- Probably my best friend up until age 11 was my pal Grant, who I kind of lost touch with when his family moved until we've connected in recent years thanks to the wonders of Facebook and e-mail. I even had the pleasure of attending his wedding last year. So, while I just like the name overall, this is probably the one that comes closest to breaking the 'name after someone else' rule.

Ingrid -- Surprisingly, not an Ingrid Bergman reference. I don't have anything against Ingrid Bergman, of course, but it's just a cool name. It's kind of incredible that after all these years, Ingrid Bergman is still by far the most famous Ingrid going. If you think about it through the Casablanca lens, she's still the most famous Ingrid and Bogart is still the most famous Humphrey. Of course, Humphrey is a terrible name; why do you think people refer to him almost solely by his last name or as Bogey?

Joe -- Big favourite on the boys' side here. Cup of Joe. A regular Joe. Good ol' Joe. You can't go wrong with a thoroughly solid name like this. And I will not name him Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo, so put your mind at ease.

Ivy -- Yeah, I know, this one edges dangerously close to Stripper Name territory and as a father, I know my primary role is to keep her off the pole. It's not *high* on my daughter name list, but it's at least an option. Of course, people could be like, "Oh, you went to Western and named your daughter after the Richard Ivey School Of Business," which would disgust me. Maybe this is a bad idea. The cons may outweight the pros of my daughter having a built-in theme song.

John (Jon, Johnston) -- A few different options. You can either have the traditional John, or the no-H version which I kind of like for brevity, or you can give the boy the name of Johnston to be more formal. Then again, I wonder if Johnston is a fitting name for anyone that isn't a butler or some type of upper-crust high society type. I'm not sure if I can handle my son having a membership with a yacht club.

Lily -- I had a noticeable stutter as a child and it still manifests itself with certain letters or letter combinations. For example, words with multiple M's, N's or L's give me issues from time to time. (It took me roughly five minutes to complete the "get thee to a nunnery" line from Hamlet when we were reading the play aloud in high school English class. That's right, I got to read as Hamlet. Be jealous.) So, while it may be impractical to give your daughter a name that you can't pronounce, you'd figure I'd eventually break my problem after constant repetition. And yeah, the name idea is from "How I Met Your Mother." I like it enough that I'm willing to turn the naming of my child into a glorified speech therapy session.

Laszlo -- Holy crap, another Casablanca-inspired name. Aside from cheering for Ukraine during the World Cup, I don't embrace my Eastern European roots all that much, so Laszlo is not a top option. Though, if he grew up to be a pro wrestler, his finishing move could be the Laszlo Pana-suplex.

Lynne -- Not Lynn or Lyn, but specifically Lynne with the 'E' on the end. This is not debatable. Jeff Lynne may be the forgotten man in the Traveling Wilburys, but he won't be forgotten here! (Note: I'm not actually naming a child after Jeff Lynne.)

Mark Jr. -- Very low on the list. A few of my friends actually intend to go with the 'Junior' route, which I find surprising. I like my name, but not all that much. I think I'd only make my son a Junior if my babymama really loves my name, which may explain why she slept with me in the first place. Also, the other kids can call him MarJu!

Margaret -- Unique entry here since while this isn't a contender for a first name, Margaret is the favourite for a middle name since it's a name that has been in my family for generations. (My mom and grandma are both Margarets, for example). Hmm, maybe I should be thinking more about middle names. There's a list for next week!

Nathan -- Another solid name. One of the favourites on the male side even though I don't have much to really say about it, it's just a good name for a guy. Either Nathan or Nate is fine by me.

Marquette -- I've made so many jokes about "hey, that's my future daughter's name" when picking Marquette in March Madness brackets that I feel obligated to at least put this on the list. But, don't worry, it's highly doubtful I'd actually pull the trigger and make this the name. Wouldn't my daughter feel obligated to attend Marquette? Or, at the least, be forced to answer questions throughout her life about why her parents named her after a school they didn't attend?

Parker -- As much as I enjoy Spider-Man, this one is not a top contender. It just sounds a smidge too preppy. One summer I worked at childrens' amusement park and was bemused to learn all of the preppy names that young parents were giving their kids. Hunter, Jaden, about 100 Madisons....yeesh. Then again, I'm the same guy who just talked about potentially naming his daughter after a semi-obscure Big East Jesuit university.

Melanie -- Why Melanie over Melissa? I feel like Melissa has taken the lead in the great race of female names beginning with Mel-, so I wanted to even the score a little bit.

Peter -- Aha! Parker didn't do the trick, but Peter, that's the ticket. The name has gone a bit out of fashion in recent years, but everyone knows one person named Pete, and that person is almost always a good dude. I'm hard-pressed to think of even one Peter that isn't a quality fellow. Ok, well, I guess Peter Kent. And Peter Griffin is a douchebag. But those mightn't count, since one is a cartoon character and the other is on Family Guy.

Paige -- Another high-quality name, if one that has been growing a bit in popularity. I don't want to join in on some naming trend, I want to start one. It would be terrible if some sarcastic blogger/children's theme park employee rolls his eyes at my daughter's name and thinks, "Pfft, just another kid name Paige. Typical yuppie jerk parent."

Ray -- You'll notice that I have Peter and Ray here, but not Egon and Winston, so don't worry, I'm not using the Ghostbusters as a resource for names. Ray is a thoroughly excellent name that might be the favourite, had I not grown up in London, Ontario. You see, there's a car dealer in town named Ray Cullen whose famous advertising jingle goes 'Ray, Ray, RAY/Ray Cullen Chevrolet/Call Ray, Ray, RAY/Today!' That damn jingle pops into my head whenever I encounter the name Ray, and I'd hate to continue this for the rest of my life.

Penny -- Technically, 'Penelope,' but certainly we'll go with the Penny route. And hey, if the government ever gets off its ass and abolishes the one-cent coin, then suddenly my daughter's name is delightfully retro. This is the only instance where naming your child after currency is acceptable. "Hi, here's my son, Quarter Smith." "This is my baby daughter, Sacagawea Dollar Jones." "Here are my twins, Loonie and Twonie."

Tim -- Hopefully by the time my son hits schooling age, 'South Park' will have faded from the public consciousness enough that "TIMM-EH!" jokes will have gone by the wayside. But yeah, Tim is a thoroughly good name. One of the top picks.

Stacy -- Here's a case where my daughter wouldn't feel the reflected pop culture backlash of a name, but my babymama would. Damn you, Fountains of Wayne. Sure, it's complimentary to anyone with a daughter named Stacy, but one would get sick of the joke after the first 600 times it's brought up. Particularly since I'd make the joke myself at least 400 of those times.

Tom -- The family that lived in my childhood home before we moved in had a little boy named Tom, whose room happened to be the one that I adopted as my own. One of his room decorations were big felt letters spelling out his name that were pasted to the closet door, and I dunno what kind of space-age glue his parents used, but years later, you can still see the T-O-M imprint on the door. Ergo, it's possible the reason I like this name so much is that I was subconsciously subjected to it for well over 20 years. Then again, I've also had a Green Bay Packers banner for years and you don't see me trying to name my kid Packer....hey wait a second....

Svetlana -- Same issue as with 'Laszlo.' Naming my daughter Svetlana announces to the world I'm way more Eastern European than I want to be. My grandparents got out of there for a reason -- sure, Stalin may not be in power NOW, but who knows when his zombie corpse might rise from the grave and reclaim power over the Soviet Bloc? Trust me, this would happen about five minutes after I landed in Kiev on a vacation to show Svetlana around the city and explore her Uke roots. Still, pretty name though.

Tyler -- I feel like there's more room for creativity with girls' names, which is why you'll notice that several of my girls' names aren't that common, whereas I'm sticking with rather normal options like Tyler for my future son. Perhaps it's because I know first-hand all the various and unique ways that boys' names can be modified into taunts, whereas with women, well, I don't know anything about women. (Hence why this list of baby names is just theoretical and not in any danger of being used anytime soon.)

Theresa -- Another 'just with this spelling' entry. Teresa is right out, but Theresa is perfect. This way there's a decent chance her friends will refer to her as 'The Resa' and eventually, 'The RZA.' And thus my master plan to organically develop a Wu-Tang nickname for my children will be complete.

Will -- Just Will, not William or Bill or Billy or Willy or Liam or ILL, if my babymama is a big Beastie Boys fan or something. The name may be a loose shoutout to Shakespeare and less of an eye-rolling one than naming your kid 'Cordelia' or something. Also, there's a chance his friends would eventually start calling him Ghostface Willah....okay, I'll stop. Fun fact: until about two years ago, my brother had no idea that 'Bill' was a short form for William.

Zoe -- And we end things off with a name destined to be at the end of many a list in her lifetime, Zoe. The Big Z. Question, do kids named Zoe or Zack or other Z-names eventually rebel against their parents by adopting the opposite pronunciation of however their parents pronounce the letter Z? Like, in the UK and Canada, would a rebellious young Zoe refer themselves as the Big Zee, rather than as the Big Zed, to invoke their parents' ire? I can't believe I used my worst joke in the last entry, talk about ending on a sour note.

Now, a word of warning. I may or may not be laying claim to all 44 of these names. I don't want this to be some George Costanza/Seven situation where any of you having children soon start thinking, "Hmm, you know, Ivy would be an interesting name for a girl...." and steal all my ideas. I'm not above naming my child Vengeance (or Vendetta, if it's a girl) and training them from birth to eventually destroy you. Though, in fairness, I'll let you have Marquette.

1 comment:

Peter Lynn said...

The name has gone a bit out of fashion in recent years, but everyone knows one person named Pete, and that person is almost always a good dude. I'm hard-pressed to think of even one Peter that isn't a quality fellow.

Yes! [fist pump]

Uh ... unless I just helped you come up with another example, that is.