Photo Credit: Jeffrey Coolidge/The Image Bank/Getty
The other day I met a woman at a party. Within minutes of chatting with this well-coiffed, blonde lady in a jaunty beret, I knew everything about her I would ever need to know. All she had to do was tell me her son's name: "Javier Tiberius."
It didn't matter what her last name was. Whether it was Goldberg or Kennedy, it bowed under the baggage of the beret-wearin' character in front of me. Further conversation only confirmed my hypothesis, revealing a woman whose only son was, in her mind, royalty.
A play date did not ensue. Which was fine. Especially since I suspected my child wouldn't pass inspection. Or might get beheaded.
Admit it. You can always tell the really uptight parents by the contrived names, like Prudence, Bunny or James III -- numbers after a name being a clear indicator that the parents want the world to know who came first. (You can bet that if "Lovey" on "Gilligan's Island" had put out a bit more, there would have totally been a Thurston Howell IV.)
On the other end of the spectrum are the artsy-fartsy parents and celebrities who want their children to be unencumbered by their names. They invent names, like Rumor, Poet, Blue Ivy, Diva, and Kyd, hoping that one day their child will define it for themselves.
But a name doesn't have to be extreme to tell a story. Lots of baby names speak for themselves. For example:
--Apple, Plum, Clementine: You're British. Or you wish you were.
--Ethan, Jack, Henry: You have a subscription to The New York Times, but only really read it on Sundays.
--Tess, Ella and Milo: You're so chic you're above tradition. You don't just use old names. You use REALLY old names. Like, covered-wagon old.
--Tiffany, Amber Lynn, Blaine: High school was good to you. And I kinda hate you for it.
--Jonah, Miriam, Avi: You're most likely kosher and have possibly written a children’s book.
--Maxwell (for a boy): You're introspective and intelligent.
--Maxwell (for a girl): You think buffaloes really have wings.
Okay, so maybe I'm pushing it. But I'm not entirely off base. At least not on the Maxwell front.
My point is, kids' names speak volumes about their parents. After all, there is little more you can do for your baby -- other than actually create it -- that so thoroughly reflects you. You can spend days, weeks, even the whole nine months (and sometimes beyond) choosing a name. You try to formulate just the right combination of first, middle and last name that will open doors and facilitate future relationships, unlocking the key to happiness.
In order to do this, you create a list of potential names based on whether you are creative or analytic, a wall-flower or an attention-lover, preppy or bohemian. Then you edit your list making more personal choices such as crossing off the names your delusional spouse suggested, those of relatives you loathe and the names of anybody who was ever mean to you in grade school.
The result is name that immediately reveals something about you and where you came from. And it better not remind you of a boy named Javier who stood you up at prom.