Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Are you aware of the difficulty of coming up with a suitably hip but still meaningful name for a soon-to-be-born baby when you live in Brooklyn, where the most ordinary pre-K class includes Max, Liam, Wilfred who prefers to be called Frog, Grayce with a Y, Ella, Sadie, Luther, two Naomis, Quinn, Toby, Ruby, Ahikara, George, Henry and Elias?
Let me assure you of the difficulty, especially when it is compounded by the fact that both parents are inclined to choose family names, but obscure and relatively distant family names.
On one side the obscure and relatively distant family names, such as Schlomo, Moises, Gavril and Adi, hark back to the Polish rabbinate. On the other side we find French names such as Raoul, Constant, Clement, Armand, Arnould, Hippolyte, Jehan, Bardin and Louis. On that same side we also have WASPy names. Basically the same 4 names (Charles, Jeffrey, Richardson and Winthrop) have been used for about ten generations, which results in lots of juniors, thirds and confusion.
And have I mentioned that both parents are opinionated, stubborn and determined?
The first order of business is rejecting names, for all the usual reasons. She knew someone in high school named Constantine. Nix Constant. He played tennis against a Bartholomew who was notorious for foot-faults. Any kid named Hippolyte would be called Hippo, and never survive kindergarten.
She liked the names of German artists, such as Dieter or Gerhard or Kiefer (for Anselm, not Sutherland). His grandmother would be profoundly unhappy with a German name.
What’s wrong with Anselm, I wonder? He was a great 11th century theologian who fought corruption in the church and opposed slavery. He is also a saint, but I won’t mention that to the parents in question.
Aldous (as in Huxley) was mooted for a while, then rejected, but I don’t know if the rejection was based on literary criticism or dissonance.
I have suggested the following for consideration: Aloysius, Sebastian, Benedict, Horace, Buckminster, Linus, Maurice, and Phineas. Around the holidays I put forth: Melchior, Balthazar or Casper. Casper got some traction. But then was tossed on the basis of the Friendly Ghost association. My argument is that every name has some association for somebody, and for that reason all such associations should be discounted. Except when they are not.
CSB fixated on Atom for almost a week.
Last night I had what I considered to be a brainstorm: Rainer. Or Rilke.
She liked it. He does not. And so it goes.

1 comment:

meg said...

clearly that was not the end of the discussion!