I think we've all noticed baby names going off something of a cliff in recent years. As my generation -- the generation of 6 Jennifers and 5 Jessicas per class -- grows up and has kids, we are desperate to give our kids unique and interesting names that will let them achieve maximum creative potential, while also not having to be known as "Michael H" all the way through to adulthood because dammit, there are too many Michaels.
Let me be clear: I am all in favor of interesting names. I don't think anyone consciously chooses to name their kid the same thing that everyone else is naming theirs, and so in our attempts to be unique, we come up with some new stuff that is pretty solid. Remember when "Madison" was a straight-up crazy thing to name a kid? Well, now it's quite popular, and I like it. If nobody took risks, we'd never come up with anything interesting and original.
However, where things start to really go wrong is when the parents' only goal IN THE WORLD is to give their kid a name that nobody else has. No matter what. Here are a few of the ways that the wheels come off the naming bus -- things that we should maybe think about trying to avoid:
Take a name we all know and love, but spell it like a drunk toddler coughing up Scrabble pieces
There once was a girl named Ashley. And she had a friend named Ashleigh. And there also was a girl named Ashlee, because why not.
These names are all pronounceable. Good for them. You can play with spelling to your heart's content and you won't hear a peep from me.
Except can someone tell me how in all the high holy f**k you're supposed to pronounce "Meeirrheah"?
No, no it isn't. It's pronounced "my parents are assholes."
If you want to give your kid a name that is wholly unpronounceable, go ahead: just remember that every substitute teacher is going to hopelessly sound out something that rhymes with "diarrhea" while every reservation they make over the phone FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES is going to be misspelled.
But hey, they'll be the only Meeirrheah in the class! WORTH IT.
Going with a nice ethnic name ... for an ethnicity you have nothing to do with
People from other countries get to have the best names. Seriously. Have you ever met someone who's legit Irish, like Gaelic-is-their-first-language Irish? They get to have names like Baird and Balfour and Aingeal and Rhoswen.
You know who doesn't get to have those names? PEOPLE WHO AREN'T IRISH EVEN A LITTLE BIT.
I don't get to name my kid Nefertiti just because I studied Egypt in school and thought it was neat. That's why most white people make terrible rappers, and 100% of white French Canadians make terrible rappers. Even though you like it, doesn't mean it suits you.
These guys love rap music though!
My rule: if you don't have a last name from that ethnicity or at least have a grandparent with some vague connection to "the old country," then don't name your kid Agnieszka just because your uncle went to Poland one time and liked the food. You aren't Polish, and neither is your kid. (unless you are actually Polish, in which case you should feel free to name your kid Agnieszka or Malgorzata or even Grzegorz. I will never be able to pronounce them, but I will think they are cool because z doesn't show up nearly enough in regular-old American-sounding names.)
That's not a name; that's a word
Gwyneth Paltrow's kid is named Apple. Michael Jackson's kid goes by Blanket. Somewhere out there, someone is having a kid and naming it Shoulder, I guarantee it.
These are not names. These are words. You can't just glance around the hospital room after giving birth and be like "uhhh ... her name is ... Blinds!" I mean, I guess you can, but that's a pretty dick move. Similarly, please don't look at your child and think "having this child has already brought me happiness! Therefore I shall name him Happiness!" Happiness is not a name. It is a noun.
Don't try to turn objects into names. Objects in other languages are equally bad, especially if you don't know what they actually mean (like the infamous example of people naming their daughters "Latrina" because they don't realize that LATRINA IS SPANISH FOR F**KING TOILET YOU STUPID ASSHOLE).
Plenty of "things" have become names over the years, like Olive, Lily and various other flowers, and intangible concepts like Charity and Temperance. These are acceptable, known names. Somebody else made that happen for you, and you should thank them. But please, please don't try to be the guy that turns "Frame" into a name for an actual human. It isn't. It's something you put a picture into.
Replacing letters with other letters -- thereby turning the name into soup -- because why the f**k not?
This is more insidious than the whole coughing-up-Scrabble-pieces thing. These names are still pronounceable, and you know what name was intended, and yet you still want to punch the parent right in the face for this enormous act of douchery.
When I see names where every single vowel has been turned into a Y, my eyes cross and I throw up. I also throw up when I see a name where an f has arbitrarily been switched with a ph, clearly just for the parents' shits and giggles. "Stephanie" is a lovely name. Typing "Styfyny" just made me pass out for six hours.
When I say this name in my head, my jaw feels clenched the entire time. This gives me an overpowering urge to bite the living shit out of the next person I see.
Armed with these simple guidelines, go forth and give your children unique and interesting names! Call them things like Addison and Harper and Mason and Colton. I don't think I've ever actually met someone with any of those names, and yet they're all in the Top 50 names given in 2012. That's awesome.
And if you name your kid "Mykjynzsy" (pronounced Mackenzie, obvs), I'm coming to your house and slapping you fifty times straight.
Oh, and since I promised you that Jesse and I had come up with the best name ever, here it is:
It's pretentious, it's misspelled, and of course, the natural nickname isn't a name but an object. Well, not so much an 'object' as an 'object OF RIDICULE.'
If we ever manage to make a son, we're naming him Phartholomew. And when he finally makes it to store manager at the local McDonalds at the age of 43, he's going to look like this:
And for those who know our last name, go ahead and say his full name out loud.
That is why I could not stop giggling.
It's still not as bad as Latrina, though, which is a real name that actual people have to introduce themselves with and put on top of their resumés.
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