Monday, August 8, 2011

Baby Names

"I'm so sorry"
I feel compassion for Gwyneth Paltrow.  Having been given one of the most difficult names to spell in Hollywood (second only to Dweezil Zappa), she decided not to give her daughter the same burden.  Instead, she named her child “Apple.”  It’s a silly name, for sure, but she did get a free iPod Shuffle out of it.  Gwyneth may have gone overboard, when she named her later children: Dell, Zune, and Front-side Bus.
You want a joke caption?  Look up her kid's names.  Seriously.
Even outside of Hollywood, it’s hard to pick a good name for your child.  Sure, you can pick a common one like Jon or Matthew.

(Although, my mother insists Matthew wasn’t a common name back when she picked it for me.  She also insists the Michigan Wolverines football team would make an excellent presidential cabinet.)
"Okay, which one of you wants to deal with credit default swaps?"
However, the trend these days is to come up with something more unusual to fit the uniqueness of your child. 

When my wife and I picked names for our children, we had three rules.  The name had to be:
  1. Easy to spell.
  2. Uncommon, but not so rare as to seem strange.
  3. Short, so people wouldn’t turn it into an annoying nick name.
With our first child, we looked through baby name books until we picked a name that turned out to completely encapsulate his personality: Hot Dog with Ketchup.  Really, went with Simon, which fit the rules perfectly.  Everybody knew it, so spelling wasn’t a problem.  Some people attempted to call him “Simony,” but I slapped them across the face a couple times and they went away.
He has my eyes.
We were going through the same process of looking through books for a name for our second child that fit the rules when we came across “Adlai.”  Having grown up in Illinois, I knew the name well.  My father taught in Adlai Stevenson Hall.  I told my wife about the Adlai Stevenson who ran for president and his famous exchange with a supporter:

Supporter: “Every thinking person will vote for you!”
Stevenson: “Yes, but I need a majority to win.”

Since my wife and I both carried the recessive “smartass gene,” we felt the name would fit his personality well.
Hopefully, he'll keep his shoes in better repair.
Then he was born and people needed me to repeat his name three times before they could say it right.  I had to explain that it was pronounced “ADD-lay” not “Add-UH-lay” numerous times.  I had to point out that my son was not actually a girl called “Adelaide.” My wife eventually gave in and now calls him “Addie” (violating rule three and perhaps giving me grounds for divorce).

This weekend, however, was the pinnacle of Adlai-misnaming.  At a friend’s house, I was confused as to why her son kept asking questions about where a burrito restaurant was.  Eventually, I realized the problem.

He though my son’s name was “Chipotle.”

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