The Name Game

...my mother said when i was born she looked into my eyes and knew i was an old soul...i'm pretty sure what she saw was the future i'd have living with the name she'd given me only a few hours before...a name i shared with both grandmothers...a name reminiscent of an old, chain-smoking woman with a collection of porcelain cats...a name i share with this woman:

...growing up, adults told me how uncannily mature i acted for my age...now that i'm in my thirties people tend to look at me and see a young woman, but as soon as i open my mouth the old chain-smoker comes toppling out...i've spent the majority of my life shortening my name just so i could escape the strange club that includes this mysterious lady holding a rose...

...so it should come as no big shock that for the last few weeks what's vexed me more than anything about my pregnancy is what to name the twins...note: already, i'm referring to them as "the twins" and must, at some point, stop this...

...adam has been very helpful in coming up with his favorite choices:

  • jean claude and van damme
  • grover and cleveland (courtesy of jeremy young)
  • chuck and norris
  • jefferson and washington
  • aeneas and odysseus
  • ben and jerry
  • oliver and cromwell

...my choices have been more down to earth:

  • orlando and rosalind
  • desi and lucy
  • will and kate

...at least my shortlist includes the possibility for at least one daughter to come out of the fraternal mix, while adam has (unconsciously?) come up with nothing but masculine superlatives...i actually had him sold on "will and kate" for about an hour before the following conversation took place:

adam: wait a minute. aren't there some people in england named will and kate?
me: i'm sure there are loads of people with those names all over the world.
adam: you know what i mean. famous people, like the queen.
me: (stifling giggles) the queen's name is elizabeth.
adam: those two you're so obsessed with.
me: i'm not obsessed. (realizing too late i'd been tricked)
adam: they're out.

...strangely, we're able to eliminate more names than we actually like...timothy is out as it is a name adam considers perpetually adolescent...i've axed natalie because of a little girl in ellie's dance class who is always late, scratches the other little girls, and generally makes me want to drop kick her across the ballet floor...i've actually fantasized about putting a note in the suggestions box in the lobby that would read "kick natalie out of ballet one"...also on the cutting room floor is andrew, which will always carry a double-negative connotation: that of an obsessive-compulsive who writes his name on all of his toys, and of a thirty-something man watching disney porn on his computer with one hand in a bag of doritos and the other down his pants...

...we've kicked james to the curb (sorry dupratt), along with margot/margeaux, gretchen, heathcliff, isaac, teagan, and phoebe...also on the list as no-nos, any name that could turn the name game into something profane or sexual (for example, chuck)...

...we turned to one of our favorite authors for inspiration, but it doesn't take long to realize faulkner is not a great place to look for girl names: dewey dell, lena grove, dilsey, tennie, sophonsiba, philidelphy...great on paper, as metaphors...not so much in practice...and while i love The Great Gatsby, i don't think i can condemn a daughter of mine to the name daisy (simpering weakling!) nor jordan (boat-shaped, indeed)...tom and nick are names already taken in my family, and jay is just too on-the-nose...meanwhile, fitzgerald is among the strong possibilities, if for no other reason than it was also the name of my beloved cabbage patch doll...

...i've declared war on what i call the "cocktail waitress/pole dancer names"...those in the same ballpark as diamond, crystal, brittany, and scarlett (sorry, johansson, but your name makes me think of an old west saloon, and not in a good way) and anything that simply ends abruptly with an "i"...

...i've further dug in my heels against names that are just made-up jibberish: jamarcus, quiznell, shaqwontons (seriously, this last one is the name of one of my sister-in-law's former students)...adam has put his foot down to anything food-sounding...so things like velveeta, tequila, coco, or chip are out of the question...i'm really torn up about this, as i was so looking forward to yelling into the backyard, "macaroni! cheese! get your asses in this house right now!"

...my kid sister's name is april...and my mother has related to me the folly she feels is the giving of that moniker...it makes her forever young, forever inculpable, forever associated with spring and happiness...she admits she should've just gone with her middle name, elizabeth (where we got our daughter's name) and maybe she would've been a bit more responsible, a bit more mature...thus, i've vowed never to name my children after a season or something from the natural world...no river, phoenix, galaxy, january, june, hawk or bear...

...elizabeth has voted for her favorite names...and while we don't yet know what we're having exactly, she's decided on alexander and penelope...she likes alex because "it's for a boy or a girl" and penelope because there's the advantage of calling her little sibling "penny"...i'm on board with alexander--who wouldn't want to name a kid after a raving lunatic who conquered most of the eastern hemisphere and died of an STD?--but i'm not sure about the whole "penny" thing...though it's worked for penny marshall for years...

...my grandmother, laverne joyce, hated the way i said my name..."It sounds like you're a man, huffing it out. Why can't you make it sound cheerful?" she often told me...i spent hours in front of the mirror saying my name with different lilts and inflections...when we finally got an answering machine, i only listed grandma's name on the tape, never satisfied with what i sounded like saying my own name...and i still hate it...maybe when i'm seventy and sipping bourbon under the florida sun while i bake by tootsies in the sand, i'll eventually feel i've grown into my name...for now, all i can do is try to avoid giving our next two kids the same complex...

1 comment:

    It IS easier to eliminate names than to include as possibilities! We've had this conversation and we are not even expecting any babies (or even one baby) yet.
    Aww, Dupratt!
    I like Gretchen actually...
    Penelope is cute but I think that's the Kardashian's new baby name? :/ Might get popular real quick! (Plus Clayton says it "Pee-nuh-lope" anytime we hear it so...)
    I love all of the names Rebecca and her husband (GirlsGoneChild) have chosen, I might steal one of them if we ever procreate. ;) She has a lot of good unused ones, too, I think!
    (I linked to her 3 naming posts here: http://livinginneverland-sandiego.blogspot.com/2012/12/links-im-lovin.html)
    I think we would lean toward less common names simply because neither of ours are very common.
    And, in closing: I always loved your name (as I know you, Joy) and that is how I think of you and it always makes me think "joyous" and that makes me happy... man. :) xoxo