A heralded writer named Wilson Shakespeare once posed the question, “What’s in a name?” It’s a good question, really. Names are important. Being able to name our things and ourselves is truly what separates us from the animals. Well, that and inventing Turbo Tax, because I’d like to see a motherfucking monkey do THAT shit, son.
As creatures who rely on easy, safe, and effective identification—probably due to some inherent evolutionary trait, or something—we name things with purpose. We name our instruments and our automobiles and even our genitalia. (For me, it’s N/A, “Nissan” and “Stanley,” respectively.)
All of this, however, pales in comparison to the most important name any of us will ever select: the name of a child.
It’s a powerful responsibility, a fantastic decision of unparalleled importance. With one stroke of the feathered quill (I assume this is how physicians complete birth certificates), you decide whether this slimy blob of raw hamburger meat will be a leader of men (WINSTON CHURCHILL!) or a degenerate, unemployable ne’er do-well who rocks a neck tattoo and murders elderly farm couples for their small pensions (Satan McShitface).
If you’re anything like my cousin—certifiably more dirt-bag than human-man—you’ve saddled your crop of accidental offspring with an albatross made of empty Faygo pop-bottles and spent packages of Kool cigarettes. Thus, you most definitely have a child named Quentin—for Tarantino, of course—and your two youngest future-CEOs are named Damien Morrison (THE OMEN MEETS THE DOORS!) and Cobain LaVey (after Nirvana and the founder of the Church of Satan). It’s a decidedly dick move to be sure, but hey, you’ve got nine of these little “miracles” to name, by God. Shouldn’t you be allowed a little creative liberty?
(No. The answer is always no.)
Normal people, however, have a process. They sit down as a couple and discuss potential options. Maybe they make a list and they go back and forth for hours (or days, or months) discussing the merits of their respective selections.
Me: No. Patty is terrible. Come on—she’ll be Fatty Patty or Fat-Pat. Kids are the worst.
Wife: Okay, well, then what’s next on your list?
Wife: Okay. Clearly you’re joking.
Me: What? Why?? We can call her Dot. It’s cute as shit!
Wife: Seriously? Just stop it. What about Jessica?
Me: Um, you KNOW I lost my virginity to a girl named Jessica, right?
Wife: Oh, shit. You’re right. Fine. What about Paula?
Me: Good God, are you shitting me with that? Paula eats spaghetti noodles with butter for dinner and has more cats than she has friends. Fuck Paula.
Wife: You’re right. What about Lisa?
Me: Like, Turtle? Lisa TURTLE? Next.
The hardest part: We know these names. All of them. We have personal ties with Linda and Hillary and Courtney, and we make associations. We used to give Crystal weed so she’d strip for us in the parking lot of the Taco Bell that used to be on Barry Road—you know, where that weird drive-thru coffee place that isn’t a Starbucks is now. Christina used to let her snot run down until it infiltrated her nachos during elementary school lunch. James pissed his pants until we were IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, for fuck’s sake.
We’re permanently ruined by Ben-Gay and Loose-Lucy and Doug the Bug. So we’re stuck with names that are safe, mock-proof and resolutely popular: Kayden, Jayden and Hayden (and any version of those names, sometimes substituting the “y” for an “i” and an “e”) receive a societal pass. As do names given in honor of a place—Aspen, Dakota, Austin, Houston, Dallas or Schenectady. Plus, it’s acceptable and even “hip” to name your child something old-timey for the sake of originality, despite the millions of Lou’s, Henry’s, Caroline’s, and Gertrude’s who have been rotting in their graves for decades.
However, we eventually tire of the “safe” options and head off in search for something “different.” And when we do, our human children end up bizarrely christened “Apple” or “Pilot Inspektor” or we wave the digital white flag and allow the internet to name our kid “Cthulu All-Spark” in some dystopic vision of an horrifically unwanted tomorrow.
The names we choose to give our kids—like technology—evolve. Eventually, a solid name like “Christopher” will be phased out. And in its place, a weird symbol that looks like a fly engaging in auto-fellatio, but is actually the Egyptian hieroglyphic for “eternal wisdom” or some bullshit, will provide an edgier, more esoteric baby name.
Me? I don’t subscribe to trends or even accepted definitions of normalcy. That’s why I’m naming my daughter Einstein Q. Fucksalot. We’ll call her “Q” for short. We’re painting her nursery neon green to eradicate gender-specific “illusions,” and my wife and I will only be communicating via sign language until she’s five, lest she be irreparably damaged by unnecessary vocal inflection and modulatory expectations.
Or we’re going to call her Stella. Because it’s a good name, a fine beer and an excellent song by a pretty good band named Interpol. And we’ll probably try and get that one cute picture where she’s scratching her cheek, but it looks like she’s actually flipping us off. Because that’s high comedy, friends—whether you’re me, or you’re my dirtwad cousin Brian.
Latest posts by Brandon Leftridge (see all)
- New Daddy Chronicles, Part II: Now the Baby is Home – Year One - August 21, 2016
- New Daddy Chronicles, Part I: Here Comes the Baby - May 28, 2015
- Infant Care Class (aka: A Very Important Saturday That I’ll Never Get Back) - February 13, 2015