Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

My name is true


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 …

12 comments on “My name is true

  1. S.K. Nicholls
    December 3, 2016

    Nice teaser. We have a grandson named Sebastian and another named Carter. The boys seem so nice and normal, caring and loving. The girls Jalina Love and Kira Star are bouncing off the walls, into everything, and about crazy. They are selfish and we expect to find them dancing table top at Rachel’s Gentlemans Club at some point. Is it a boy:girl thing or do their names have something to with influencing our opinions? We’ve asked that question a hundred times.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 3, 2016

      I wonder if it’s also the way we treat kids with certain kinds of names. Maybe some behavior is tolerated in a Sophia Breeze and not in a Patty Anne. I hate to think of all the Sophia Breezes out there winding up at Rachel’s Gentlemen’s Club, though!

    • kingmidget
      December 3, 2016

      Susan … that’s interesting. The experience you’re having with the grandkids. When my kids were younger it seemed the opposite. All the little girls were nice and normal, quiet and calm, while the boys, including my own were running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

      • S.K. Nicholls
        December 3, 2016

        My own boys were angel….most of the time. My daughter, however was a nightmare. And she is the mother of my granddaughters. I’m sure her parenting has something to do with her daughter’s behavior. They get away with things I never would have tolerated…especially in the way they are allowed to talk to people. Sebastian is so polite and calm, but I don’t think I’ve ever hear Jalina say please or thank you. He goes off and plays by himself and is very creative. Jalina requires your undivided attention and is flat out rude at times. Maybe it’s just the differences in genes and personalities.

      • kingmidget
        December 3, 2016

        I could only compare our two boys with other people’s children. And while our boys were non-stop balls of activity, it seemed that little girls were always much calmer. I also think there’s a father-son and mother-daughter dynamic at work.

  2. kingmidget
    December 3, 2016

    Did somebody say edible bikini???

    You do realize that in parts of the Midwest and the South that the top boy name for 2017 will be “the Donald.” Can you imagine? “What’s your name?” “the Donald Jedediah Lucroy.”

    I have two sons. My wife is Jewish and they have a naming tradition involving using the first letter of a dead relative. With our first son, if we could have gone with any name we would have named him Benjamin, but the tradition required a name starting with an R. We gave him a name that is almost unheard of for American boys — Reese. With our second child, we had a J. We named him Jacob — just about the most common boy name there was in the late 90’s.

    But the names for our sons are probably two of the only things my wife and I have ever agreed on. 😉

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 3, 2016

      I like the name Reese. I wonder if he got ribbed because of Witherspoon?

      As for kids named “The Donald,” I have a feeling those parents are gonna regret it one day. 😉

  3. pinklightsabre
    December 3, 2016

    Clever plug there, Kevs…from one of your favorite Bills, here. Ha!

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 3, 2016

      I saw an opening, so I took it … Funnily, I think Kevin might have been an odd-sounding name back in my day, though there were always two or three in my classes. What’s in a name, anyway?

  4. 1WriteWay
    December 4, 2016

    I do like that teaser for Fascination! Speaking of names, my former major professor had a poem published some time ago, lamenting the loss of certain female names (stop me if I’ve already shared this with you): http://news.wgcu.org/post/hunt-hawkins-mourning-dying-female-names. I love the poem in part because it names my mom (Florence) and several of my aunts (Edna, Mildred, Myrtle, Edith). Now these are names we may never hear again …
    And as someone who works with data from birth certificate records, linking those records across time and with other administrative data, imagine the consternation when the infants’ names include punctuation 😉

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 4, 2016

      I like the poem. Same idea. Interesting that a woman named Hillary ran for prez, since that’s a bit old-fashioned too and I bet not many babies are gonna get named Hillary for the foreseeable future!

      Names with punctuation … That’ll be fun. And I just saw the name “Johnthony” in the news, so hybrids are coming too.

      • 1WriteWay
        December 4, 2016

        Oh, people can be so crazy with names … that is, the parents can be 😉

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