Friday, January 21, 2011

What's In a Name?

So a very lovely woman asked me to do a guest post at a blog that specializes in baby names. That was back maybe in the fall and I just got around to it yesterday. Keep in mind that people go to that site LOOKING FOR A BABY NAME. You know that old expression -- know your audience? Well, if you went to a site looking for advice on baby names, would you want to be insulted by a bitch who thinks it's funny that she would have named her twins Lulu and Moxley if she was famous? Probably not. So after I submitted the piece (below), she very kindly told me perhaps this wasn't up their alley given that, among other things, 15,000 people named their daughters Madison last year and a large majority of women who visit the site meet my definition of "unstable." Well, I spent a whole 10 minutes on it so I didn't want to put it to waste. Here are some tips on naming your baby. Don't read this if you have a child named Madison. Or one named Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver for that matter. Or if you name your babies before they are even conceived and then accuse other people who have real, non-fictional babies of stealing YOUR baby name. Or if you are Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow or ... you know what? Maybe nobody should read it.

Eight Tips on Picking Out a Name

I assume you are over here at (the blog's name) because you are expecting a bundle of joy and are debating monikers for your impending little one. Either that, or you are one of those unstable women who name their children years before said children are conceived and are here to see if other people are “stealing” your name.  I say “women” because men almost never think up names for children that don’t exist.  It’s the one and only way in which they are the superior gender.

So if you are in fact perusing for a name, I have some helpful tips for you:

1. It’s always a good idea to name a child after a cherished relative. Or better yet, a rich one. One of my twin daughters is named after my maternal grandmother, unfortunately not for the latter reason.

2. If you’re going to stick a child with a bizarre name, after a day of the week for example, give their siblings an equally tortuous name. This brings to mind Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Their first daughter is “Sunday.” They just had a second daughter born on Tuesday, December 28. Instead of naming her “Tuesday,” they chose “Faith.” Don’t they think someday Sunday is going to wonder why she got stuck with the weird name and her sister got off so easy?

3. Speaking of celebrities, unless you are one, don’t name your child after a fruit.

4. And even if you are a celebrity, have some compassion. I’m talkin’ to you Katie Price and Jermaine Jackson. No child deserves to be emblazoned with Princess Tiaamii Crystal Esther Andre or Jermajersty Jermaine Jackson.

4. People will not think you are creative if you spell your child’s name in a funky way. They will think you are illiterate. Think Jaycub instead of Jacob, Brittni instead of Brittany, Jourdynn instead of Jordan, and J’son instead of Jason. (Yes, people have done it.)

5. The name Madison should have remained nothing more than a mermaid in the movie Splash. Unfortunately, every elementary class in the United States is filled with them. On behalf of Darryl Hannah, don’t perpetuate the trend. She probably feels guilty enough as it is.

6. Consider how much money and power you have when naming a child. The more money and power, the more leeway you have with names. When the kid is teased on the playground, will he be able to retort, “My daddy can buy your daddy’s company and fire him!” and actually mean it? Well, then, knock yourself out and name your son something like Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver like that overrated famous chef Jamie Oliver did. 

7. Be careful with nicknames. Oh sure, he may be your little “Mikey” when he’s three months old, but nicknames have a way of sticking. And a 23-year-old Mikey (or even an 8-year-old one) isn’t quite as cute.

8. Remember this is your child’s name. Forever! Give them a lovely name, a creative name if you must, but one that they will be proud of as a child AND an adult. I am no expert on names. I spent all of three seconds deciding what to call my girls. One is (Lulu's real name), after my awesome grandmother. The other is (Moxley's real name), just because I think the name is so pretty. It wasn’t until I noticed every third child on the playground is (Moxley's real name) that I realized it was so popular. But the name suits her perfectly and I wouldn’t change a thing. So go with your heart like I did and you can’t go wrong. Good luck!

No doubt this is not my best work, and as I said to the woman, I certainly don't want to offend her readers. But I don't mind insulting mine. Okay, I kind of do. I like the name Madison, okay? Mermaids are awesome. I like the name Ariel too. Got nothing against mermaids. Sorry to offend. Sheesh, why so touchy? And if it makes you feel any better Lulu's nickname is the same name as a famous movie star and everyone always asks if she was named after this movie star to which I diplomatically reply, "No, bite me." 

PS -- I lost a follower yesterday. Perhaps they were upset I got the girls potty trained? If I lose some more today, I will assume they have a child named Madison. Or hate mermaids. No hard feelings.

PPS -- I want you to know that I'm going to sit here and pick worriedly at my cuticles hoping I didn't offend anyone. Mermaids, Madisons or otherwise. 


  1. My cousin named her kid Madison. I will send her this link anonymously.As you might gather, I don't like my cousin.

  2. I was once accused of stealing a name from a friend years after the fact. She sat and stewed about it and told me about my crime when my daughter was 8. She doesn't even have a daughter! She has two sons. She swore she told me she planned to name her first daughter a certain name and that I took it. On my life I have no idea what she's talking about. The name in question was not Madison.

  3. I've long wanted to write about names I think are stupid, but lo, I only decided they were stupid when some of my acquaintances used them on their children. Even I can't be that bitchy. But seriously, people I really, really, really like have given their kids names I think are ridiculous. My husband is the only one who get's to hear the details on that rant. And yes, I'm appalled that I have an opinion about such things.

    You know what makes me paranoid? I hate so very many names out there that people must in turn despise the names I gave my kids. And indeed, several people have looked puzzled after hearing their names and then asked, "Oh, it must be a family name?" No, I chose it out of the possible names in the world and I love it. Suck it.

    All I mean to say is that names are tough to write about. It's all very subjective. Except Madison. Everyone knows by now that Madison is bullshit.

  4. your post should be required reading for all expectant parents, even celebrities. i hated my name growing up because there were always 2 or 3 girls in my class with the same name. and in college, there were 8 of us on one floor. 8. i started giving myself nicknames in college and when i joined the workforce, and 5 have stuck. it's confusing at times, but having different names allows me to have multiple personalities. i blame my parents.

  5. I don't mind the name Madison although it's not my favorite. What I do mind is a girl in my daughters class with it spelled Madisyn. Or maybe it's Madyson. Her parents need a good smack.

  6. OMG. You call Lulu J-Lo? You? Are evil incarnate.

  7. This is hilarious - and so damn true. My parents gave me a long name that I love when it is pronounced correctly. Which is rarely. It also doesn't go with my middle name, at all. They shortened it for me when I was young but spelled it stupidly so nobody can pronounce OR spell that one. Its a name that is naturally shortened again but now its a guy's name. And my mother disapproves of my spelling of it but she had enough chances!

    Strange names aren't nearly as creative as the parents would like to believe. Odd spellings, I agree, make people look illiterate (I saw a girl named Kyly the other day - what the hell do her parents have against vowels?)and a child's name is no place for punctuation (looking at you Sh'vaurn, which my friend criminally named her child).

    I don't have children, have certainly not prenamed them (thank you for bringing that up - what is WITH that?) and have bigger things in my life to worry about than if someone close to me uses a name on their child that I think is nice. Good work on this article - you may not consider it your best work but I think it was brilliant.

  8. My rule of thumb when naming my kid was to picture them going to a new high school with each name. If little so-and-so were likely to survive other teenagers then I imagined them in a job interview, shaking hands and saying "Hi I'm so-and-so". If the name passed the CEO-not-exotic-dancer/hillbilly-mechanic test then I pictured them ordering a drink, if the name required something too pretentious then I started over.

    And yes crazy spellings just mean you can't spell not that you're a creative genius. Plus those kids will never have a license plate for their trikes. How sad.

  9. If you lost a follower it is truly their loss! Your blog makes my day.

  10. Just have to tell you that I soooo look forward to your blog posts each and every never disappoint! Love you!!!

  11. Loved this article. I've seen baby-naming articles that talked badly about names I've given my kids (especially Zachary, oddly) but after the required moment of questioning every decision I've ever made because some person somewhere said they didn't like muy son's name, I took a deep breath and... realized everyone's entitled to their opinion. And the article in question was really funny, even if it did badmouth my kid's name.

    I had very strict requirements for my kids' names. Has to be something you can croon to a baby, scream across a park when they're in trouble, and goes well with the title Supreme Court Justice (aim high, kids). Also they shouldn't go through their lives telling people how to spell it. And they all have to have their own initials. Am I crazy? Absolutely. But I feel very strongly about random things and don't get my heart broken when someone with a great sense of humor has a slightly different opinion.