Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
You know you’re getting old when the top baby names of the year sound like they come from a Tolkien novel or some undiscovered island in the Sea of Java. It was weird enough when I was in my thirties and all the girls were being named Ashley and Amber. Now baby girls are dubbed with names from medieval morality plays, pre-Raphaelite paintings. There’s the No. 1 Sophia, followed by Emma, Olivia, Ava, and Mia. I detect an obsession with movie stars. The boys, in order: Jackson, Aiden, Lucas, Liam, and Noah. Some movie star influence there too, though not really top rung.
I made fun of this trend in Fascination. The runaway husband, Mason Speck, is trying to name his approaching baby, rooting for old school, while his wife, the fragrant Dolores Freshner, leans toward the fashionable:
She chattered as if the fizzy apple juice were packing a wild punch. All Mason could do, as he sat on the floor with her, was hold that smile and pat her rump at intervals. She took up the Mighty Big Book of Mighty Cute Baby Names and began to leaf through it. “Jered?” she asked, with her boobs resting on the beanbag chair of her stomach. “Garth? Dustin? Noah? Logan? Elijah?”
Why, he wondered, did they all have to sound like they were from a movie version of the Bible featuring soap opera stars?
“Mike?” he said. “Bob? Ben? Bill?”
“Oh my gosh, no, no no!” Frowning over her cat-eye reading glasses. “Way too twentieth century. Way too boring! God, you’re so old-fashioned deep down, I mean, really. How ‘bout Isabella? Courtney? Harper? Jordyn?”
It was even worse for the girls. Are porn starlets born or made? Is destiny set the moment the birth certificate is filled out?
It kinda makes you think. Surely the life of someone named Kathy is going to turn out a lot different than that of someone named Arabella. No Arabella is going to be a checker at Safeway when she’s thirty-eight. And no Kathy, I’m guessing, is going to have her own line of edible bikinis in a chain of boutiques called YumYums.
By the same token, your Bobs, Bens, and Bills might go on to do anything from changing tires in a garage to running Fortune 500 corporations, but your boy named Jayden? I don’t know. I worry about Jayden.
I personally know, right now, one Jamison, one Damien, one Carter, one Ariel, one Braden, one Courtney, and one Chad, but I’ve lost touch with a host of Toms and Petes and Sharons. Where have all the Sharons gone?
I didn’t have children, so I haven’t had to confront the choice that Mason and Dolores had to make. I’ve named a variety of dogs and cats, though: Ned (dog), Nip (cat), Hitch (dog), Mike (cat), Harry and Scoop (cats), and Boris (female dog — long story). I always thought I might give my children interesting, unconventional names like Hubcap or Sirloin, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t have worked out very well in the tough arena of high school. They’d have been eaten alive by all the Isabellas and Graysons out there.
As for Mason and Dolores, you’ll have to buy Fascination to find out what they finally named their baby …