As I was registering children for basketball recently, I encountered a tiny young lady with petite golden curls, large blue eyes, and a name with enough consonants to label an expansive European country. Fortunately she’d forgotten her last name. I was glad because I used the whole alphabet on her first. The registration form looked like the “begat” section of the Bible. To imprint her name on the back of her jersey, we would have to use letters the size of a flea.
“What a clever name,” I beamed, mentally rearranging the letters to create the first three paragraphs of War and Peace. “How do you pronounce it?”
The girl shrugged. “Sissy.”
These days naming a child is like playing Wheel of Fortune. You call out all the letters you can think of, then take suggestions from the audience. Anybody that creates a title that the average schoolteacher can pronounce on the first try has to go to the end of the line and start over with a brand new baby.
When I was born, in the dark days before the “Buy a Vowel” era, people named their children after relatives who might leave them money. Failing a possible inheritance, they fell back on experimental methods and gave the child a name that looked like it might suit the personality of the baby.
There hasn’t been money in my family since the revenooers shut down the family still, I mean, business, so Mom went for the common sense method. The name Amy means “can’t read road maps,” and in some cultures can also be translated “she who hates vacuuming” or “one who fails at long division.” My sister is "Clothes Borrower" and my brother’s name is translated “burns gas like pine on a bonfire.”
I don’t envy celebrities who, even though they ooze enough cash to post bond several times yearly, are under such pressure to invent clever billing for their babies that in the end all the Heavenly Bodies and Fruit Baskets begin to sound the same.
The most clever of these is Apple. Who would have thought to name a baby after a computer that is immune to most major viruses? If the child takes after its namesake, doctor bills won’t become a problem until the teenage years, when crashes are inevitable. And if Steve Jobs was the marketing guru that Bill “Broken Window” Gates has become, every fruit-bearing family would have at least one Apple who would enter the world in a media fanfare, bearing a first aid kit.
When my kids were born, I went the easy route. I called the first one “The Baby” and the second one “The Other Baby” and waited until someone gave them a monogrammed shirt. After that it was easy to remember the oldest boy is AC-DC and the younger one is Slacker.
Now if I could just recall my husband’s name. I don't want to get excited until I'm sure, but it looks like I’m married to either Jimmy Buffett or Eric Clapton. I guess if I hear the blender going in the kitchen, I'll know I'm moving to Margaritaville.