Monday, November 29, 2004

Stop the Madness!

I died just a little bit inside when I saw that Julia Roberts had named her twin babies Hazel and Phinnaeus. Poor little Hazel is going to spend her entire childhood explaining that she is not, in fact, a 72-year-old chain smoker, while little Phinnaeus is going to be in high school before he can spell his name correctly on the first try.

But whom should we really feel sorry for? The teachers of America, because in just a few years our kindergartens and day care centers will be full of little Phinnys and Hazels, to add to the current crop of Mackenzies, Madisons, Masons, Barretts, Merrilyns, Aislynns and Jadens. Names have gotten really, really stupid, and this is from someone whose sister is named Skye. Oh, and my dad originally was going to spell my name with umlauts and a couple random consonants, until common sense (aka my mom) intervened. So I know whereof I speak.

To all you expectant parents of the world, I want you to do the following things for me when you’re thinking about baby names. If the name fails any of these tests, for the love of all that is good and holy, pick something else.

The Ten-Step Test of Baby Name Sanity:

1. Can you both spell and pronounce the name correctly on the first try?

2. Can you say, out loud, “Introducing the next President of the United States...(full name)” with a straight face?

3. Does this name remind you of anyone from Lord of the Rings? Or a mythical creature from a Dungeons & Dragons guidebook? If so, pick something else.

4. Would this name be suitable as a stage name for a porn star or exotic dancer? If so, skip it.

5. Did you pick this name out with the idea that your child would spend the his/her entire life as an infant? Names have to fit the adult, as well.

6. Are you picking out a weird name just for the sake of being weird? Some names, like Kaicie, seem like a continuation of those kids in high school who thought they were “noncomformists”, but dressed exactly like all of the rest of their supposedly weird friends. Besides, names move in cycles, and despite your better efforts Kaicie may well be Jennifer: the Next Generation. Don’t get wrapped up in picking something “unique.”

7. Does this name sound like the rich-kid villain of a teen exploitation film? I could totally see a Barrett shoving a nerd into a locker, then zooming off in an Iroc-Z to a kegger at the lake.

8. If you are choosing an “ethnic” name that is not of your own ethnicity, please do your research. Don’t inadvertently name your kid the Cherokee word for “pigeon poop.”

9. Person or disease? If it sounds more like an obscure tropical illness than an actual name, pick something else. Try saying aloud, “I’ve come down with a case of ….(name)”.

10. Finally, do your friends and relatives cringe when you mention your name idea? They may be afraid to tell you that you’re naming your child something stupid.