Sunday, June 06, 2010

Welcome to the World Baby Eyebrow

My mother did not get her greatest wish. She did not get to see Jasmine's baby being born. They got to Austin last night. Jasmine was in the hospital already and intended to do a whole natural birth. My mom got to be with her through parts of the labor, but it lasted forever and then they realized the baby was tangled up in the cord and was stuck, which is why it was taking so long. They had to do an emergency C-section, so my mother wasn't allowed to be there. I don't know if she is satisfied or not. But Jasmine is fine and her baby is fine, except for the name she gave him.

I confess that I generally disapprove of the names most people give their children these days, although I don't say anything because it is none of my business and I know that. I really do not like the name Jasmine chose for her son. Sometimes, I wish people, like Jasmine, would realize that the names they bestow on their offspring can really hold them back in life. I always had a sense of the whole "high-end/ low-end" name thing which they talk about in the book Freakonomics (interesting read by the way). If you haven't read the book, there's a chapter that basically states the obvious about names. A person's name can often be a strong indicator of social class and as such, a child can really be harshly judged based on his or her name. Sometimes these prejudices can affect a person's success in life. Not always, but often. Sometimes names start off as high-end, more prestigious names and then drop to low-end names. My own name is suffering this fate I think. When I write and I name characters or re-name actual people to protect their identities, I often take the whole high-end/ low-end thing into consideration too. I think it's an important thing for writers, as well as parents to be aware of. Jasmine named her child a super, low-end name which will ensure that he gets made fun of for the rest of his life, though I am not without hope that it can be overcome.

Still, it's not as bad as the name I encountered at a baby shower last summer. I went to my friend Angelina's shower. She was pregnant with twins, whom she has since had and given respectable names. At the shower there was another girl who was also pregnant. She knew she was having a boy and she and her husband had chosen to name the child after a band. Now, due to the powers of google, I will not write out the whole name, but suffice to say, it rhymes with Fred Kreppelin. First name and middle name. Yeah. This troubled me greatly.

Last week, I saw Star the massage girl. Star is also pregnant. At the moment I know exactly ten pregnant women (and counting probably). There seems to be some kind of freakish baby boom going on. Anyway, Star the massage girl has the exact same due date as me. She just found out she is having a boy. She has elected to name this child a name that rhymes with Moxie but starts with an H instead of an M. (Again google). There is so much wrong with that name that I don't know where to even begin. I am alarmed at this name.

And then there's the fact that I have at least fifteen friends right now with daughters named Isabella, which is a lovely name, but I can't keep track of all of these Isabellas anymore. Same goes for Sophia, which is also beautiful, but just entirely too popular these days. I just have to add, on the Sophia trend here, that I was so ahead of the times. When I was little, and we're talking in '81 or '82 here, I named my Barbie doll Sophia.

After all the Isabellas, Sophias and Madisons, I have noticed another disturbing trend in child naming. There seems to be a specific formula and I have cracked the code.

If you are having a female child, you take the suffix "ailey" and add any letter of the alphabet as a prefix. You get extra points for creative spellings. It, of course, doesn't need to be spelled "ailey" as long as it sounds like "ailey." You can spell it "aylee", "aylie", "ailee" or even "aye'leigh" if you are so inclined. Again, points for creativity. Now, if you don't like "ailey" with any single letter of the alphabet, you can also come up with a combination of letters for the prefix like "Br", "Ch" or whatever you think sounds most likely to be the name of a character on a soap opera. Now, before you use this formula to name your daughter please heed this dire warning. There is a serious caveat. If your daughter's name ends with "ailey" or anything sounding like that but with a more creative spelling, please understand that there is an unusually high risk that this child is going to end up the victim of a grisly kidnapping and/ or murder, possibly committed by you, your boyfriend or a sex offender that you knew was living in your neighborhood but let your child play with anyway. I noticed this unsettling trend while watching Nancy Grace. Just watch her show for one week and you will see exactly what I mean. I am not joking.

Of course you could do the safer thing and just have a boy. There's a parallel trend for naming baby boys too. The formula is exactly the same as above, except the male equivalent suffix is "aiden" or any other possible creative spelling that could be construed to sound like "aiden." Again, start with a single letter prefix and if you aren't satisfied, start combining letters and see what you get. In naming boys, extra points are given if you can somehow fit a Z or an X into the name somewhere. These letters can even be silent. They just need to be in there to count. And breathe a sigh of relief. Your "aiden" variation won't be in the same danger as the "aileys." I don't have an explanation for this though.

Urban legends abound about dreadful child names. We've all heard them. We've also all heard about movie stars who give their kids stupid names too, though I've always kind of thought "Apple" was a cute name. The examples I give are real and here are some of the absolute worst. I have a friend who is a second grade teacher. She has a sweet, darling little girl in her class who is named Jealousy. Imagine the life this child is going to have. How could a mother do that to a child? There are two girls who work at my Winn Dixie and one is named Brunette and the other is named Baritone. I kind of get Brunette, as it is french and she is Haitienne and I think the name might sound different to a creole speaker and possibly have a different connotation (I think a direct translation into English would be like Brownie, which is unfortunate), but Baritone confuses me greatly. A baritone singer is a man, right? I have often kept myself up at night wondering what this girl's name means and how she got it. I tell myself there has to be a story behind it and I would love to know what it is.

But before I go sounding all judgy judgy (which I already have) I would like to add that I never say anything to my friends or acquaintances about what they chose to name their children, no matter how "original" they get. People have different tastes and different reasons for naming their kids and I should stay out of it.

I myself am not innocent in this and I myself have lately been the target of some criticism for what we have chosen to name Baby Lawns, so I know how it feels. Her name is very old fashioned and not popular anymore. It's not in the top 100, though it once was about 90 years ago. We think the name is pretty, but many people think it's outdated and weird and tell us so. Someone even said that her name is a terrible insult in Northern Ireland, so I just hope she never goes there. But we aren't giving Baby Lawns her name to be cool or hip or trendy or to attempt to make her the most popular girl in her class. We aren't even giving her this name to make her unique or original. We're naming her after her great-grandmother who was dearly loved and is very missed and we are doing this so she will have a connection to her heritage and so that the memory of a cherished woman can live on in her. Also, we think the name is beautiful, as I said, and if it counts for anything, the name is pretty hip in Israel these days.

Besides, I predicted a while ago that old people names will soon make a huge comeback. Hipsters are already naming their kids Henry and Ruby in droves and pretty soon I'll bet we'll see gaggles of Orvilles, Harveys, Harolds, Normans and Leons playing with a giggling pack of Ednas, Ediths, Peggys, Joans and Doris's. It will happen people. Mark my words. 

In the meantime, I will inwardly cringe at some of the things people come up with to name their children, but I won't say anything about it to them, because I understand that people do have their reasons. Even Jasmine. And ultimately what matters is that the children are happy, safe, healthy and loved and I'm sure Jasmine's son will be.

(Ok, but honestly, JEALOUSY??? Most strippers wouldn't even call themselves that one. I can't not judge. I can't.)

But welcome to the world Eyebrow Baby. May your parents not decide that it would be cute to shave lines in your fuzzy little cap of hair, because that would not be cute at all and may you make the absolute best of your name. May you make it your own.


One Mean MFA said...

I think classic names are best and you're proabably right about old names comes back. Life, it's just so cyclical.

Although it is upsetting that there are a ton of Isabellas and Sophia's because I've always loved those names. Whatever.

I also think that whatever you chose to name Baby Wide Lawns, it will only suit her. Who cares what other people think? She's your child and like Baby Eyebrow she'll grow into it and make her name her own.

Names are funny like that. I always had friends who hated their names, and I always liked mine, maybe that's why I'm wicked outgoing.

Baby naming is a touchy subject, and everyone has a flippin' opinion about it.

I'm sure Baby Wide Lawns will love her name.

Snowsaber said...

oh my goodness, I just saw this the other day and thought you might appreciate its relevance:

Deneen said...

I think you're right about high and low end names. Some of the "creative" low-end doozies I've seen on arrest forms made me pity the person. (Obviously it's not a given--we have plenty of Bobs and Joes arrested too.)

My real name is traditional, with the standard spelling, and very "ethnic." People can't pronounce it or spell it. I hated it as a kid, but I grew into it and it's probably part of the reason I'm as thick-skinned as I am.

I've read you for a long time so I'm sure the name you give Baby Lawns will be nice, classy, and not down-rent or trendily "creative."

Unknown said...

Naming a baby always gets people riled up. Everyone has an opinion and they aren't afraid to tell you how you shouldn't name your baby this or that. My mother-in-law was so upset about the name we had chosen for our first son that she cried - CRIED - to me on the phone and begged me not to name him that. And it was her maiden name. At that point, I gave up and announced we weren't telling anyone what we planned to name the baby until it was on the birth certificate and final.

I'm so happy about your baby. So excited for you. :)

Eric said...

Take a look at for more fun with baby names.

Maybe Jealousy's mother heard the line about naming girls for virtues: "Faiths are atheists, Chastitys are sluts, Hopes are depressives, and Charitys are misters" and wanted to latch on to that....

Miss Melissa said...

I am in agreement with you 100% here. I detest trendy baby names, and direct my pregnant friends to "Baby's named a bad, bad thing" as a primer for what not to name their little bundle of joy. Unfortunately, a few of them miswsed my warning and ended up with something from the wall of shame. I weep for the lack of reading comprehension.

And for what it's worth, while I unfortunately will not be springing forth any more life at this point, if my well-named son had a little sister, she'd have been Agatha. :)

Moi said...

My nan was called Ruby and if I ever have a baby girl I would love to name it after her. Hopefully that name won't go gangbuster popular before I get the chance!

MamaD4 said...

The Not Without My Handbag site is hilarious...make sure you have a snack and something to drink as she has droves of funny name stories!

I definitely have noticed the
-ailey and -aiden trends here and cringe a little whenever someone announces their new baby boy is Brayden, Braiden, Braden or Zaeiden or Aiden, Aaden, Ayden or Jaiden or its like. Ugh. C'mon, really? You REALLY couldn't come up with something other than what the lady next door also named her baby?

I'm noticing a big trend to take any name, add -lynn to the end and voila! New baby name. I have an Ashlynn upstairs and an Eislynn next door.

Looking forward to finding out Baby Lawns' name!

ash said...

I have gotten various reactions from my full given name. I didn't like it for the longest time, but now I do.

I've been asked why I was given a black girl name, why I was given a boys name, why I was given a long name? Some people like it.

Someone said once my mother named me badly.

When I told my mother this she said she would rename me Goodly Badly. I like it.

Just said...

Hilarious post, thank you. I actually despair of the names some people give their children. I've taught an Armani, a Shure Lee and his brother Abvius Lee... awful.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in a doctor's office. I got to see lots of life's mistakes including the worst case of baby naming, in my own humble opinion.

James brought his two sons in, both suffering from the flu. I made new charts. Their names? both were called "James".

This induced the absolute worst case of giggles that I have ever had. I had to sneak out the back door to laugh it out. All I could think about was "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother, Darryl, and this is my other brother, Darryl" from the old TV show.

True story.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget words from other languages as names for kids - ooh, can that backfire. I flipped past an episode of some court TV thing one day, and one of the people was, I kid you not, named Assez-toi. Yes. Someone named their kid "Sit down" in French.

Joanna said...

Don't worry about Baby Lawns missing out on Northern Ireland, there isn't much to see here anyway.

Green said...

Old people names have already made their comeback. It started with Jacob and Max and now it's in full bloom. I know little kids named: Iris, Lucy (lots of Lucy's), Opal, Aesop, Sadie, Rosie, Owen, Clara, Hazel, Violet, Ezra, Mary, Margaret, Henry/Hank, Lily (lots of Lily's), etc.

I will be all judgey with you - is it any wonder someone with a name like Jasmine would be bad at naming a baby? I mean, of course there COULD be a Supreme Court justice named, well, Justice, or Crystal, or something, but the odds of stripping being in that baby's future? High.

BTW, I know a woman named Bambi. It's her real name. She's a nurse practitioner and very smart, married to a lawyer. When my brother and I first talked about her, Bambi's tagline was, "She's so smart, her name could be Jessica!"

Maybe it's too soon, but I think a late 70's / early 80's comeback would be fun. A fresh crop of Melissas, Jessicas and Allisons with some Andrews and Davids?

BTW, my mom used to be a teacher and was friends with a lot of teachers. Boys named Matthew are always badly behaved in school.

Misha said...

Ugh. I can't tell you how many times our birth certificate clerks have tried to talk parents out of a particularly awful name or strange spelling. Right now at the baby birthin' factory that I work at we are having a boom on the name Jaden and Neveah (heaven spelled backwards). Also popular are Jacob, Sam, Max, Sofia, Grace, Emily, Isabel, Jasmine, Maria and Jesus. If you want to see some crazy names check out this website:

kerry said...

I'm with you- I cringe at a lot of the names and even moreso- the spellings. Some of these things I wonder how many years it was before the kid learned to spell their name.

I like old-people names. So many of them are beautiful.

MtnMama said...

Absolutely in agreement. One of my friends named her only son a weird name (starts with X) and she mis-pronounces it, to boot.
My tongue is so sore from biting it.

I always think about how a child will someday be in a grown-up situation and need to be able to offer their hand for a shake, and say, with their head held up, "Hi, my name is..."

Erica said...

Oh man! You reminded me that we had a girl in my high school named "Chanel No. 5" I shit you not..

rosie-b said...

I had a student named Camry once. Not sure why the parents named him that. Maybe they wanted a nice reliable kid?

LunaChickNYC said...

When I was SIXTEEN and that Gin Blossoms song "Hey Jealouy" was out I kind of thought it would be cool if Jealousy was my name. I would not have named my child that however. How old is this Jealousy you know? Song came out in 92 so if she's around 18 you may have found the link

Anonymous said...

I had a secretary who named her son Phoenix. It's where he was conceived. Maybe Camry's parents did the same thing!

Anonymous said...

Australia is not immune.... this was in the "news" recently:

Jimijam said...

I encountered a Vernon and a Gerald in the same blog. My first thought was "child abuse" but I plan on naming my first son "Manfred" so who am I to judge?

Anonymous said...

I am signing in anonymously to protect myself and the innocent children of whom I speak. I'm a long-time reader and commenter, but assume the cloak of secrecy for this comment.

On my first grade class list for next fall: Kaylee, Kayley, Jaylee, Braden, Jackson, and Jaxon... along with some other choice examples.

Meanwhile, a colleague is naming her due-soon twin sons Russel and Jasper.

I can TOTALLY confirm, as a teacher o' the yoots of America, the alarming trend toward the -ailey and -aiden names. Argh!

Anonymous said...

okay, i really wanna know jasmine's baby's name now! in our school we have a Sincere, a Jim Beam, a Cieairria (sierra), Chamrye, Azerion, Azhiya, Twyinisha, Brashae, Demachae, and many more that i can't even think of right now. soooo, so sad! oh, and my nephew is caiden

Anonymous said...

okay i forgot mississippi moon (yes, really) and this is the same anonymous again, cuz i don't wanna get fired :)

Anonymous said...

There is a Scottish name spelt Eilidh and is pronounced the same as Ailee

Anonymous said...

I know of a Scottish name Eilidh which is pronounced the same a ailee

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