I remember my son's coach ticking his way through the roll-call before the soccer games: "Joshua, Jeremiah, Jason, Joshua, Joshua, Joshua".
You get the idea.
To be fair the prelude to my daughter's games sounded little different: "Emily, Amber, Ashley, Emily, Ashley, Emily".
I can sympathize with parents. I understand the two schools of thought behind naming a child. One impulse is to lean toward safety and protect the child by hiding them deep in a herd of names. The other view is more optimistic, a child with a unique name draws attention and attention is good. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
But some parents appear more enamored with their own self-expression than with their children's future.
A friend of mine worked for the DMV. Here are some of the names she ran across.
Children named after consumer products:
Consider this. The next time you approach a controlled intersection, you may be crossing the path of a person who named a baby after a beverage. Imagine branding a kid with the name of a soft drink, like: Evian, Fanta or Pepsi? Or how about after a bar drink?, such as: Chivas, Regal, Chardonnay or Guinness.
But then consider the driving abilities of the fools who slapped their kid with a name like Charmin or NyQuell.
Outstate, children share names with pickup trucks: Laramie, Saratoga, Cheyenne, Dakota, Montana and Sierra.
Of course the suburbs are not to be outdone. There the fashion is to confuse children with cars: Camry, Porsche, Lexus, Infinity, Chevy or Celica. The only moniker worthy of a pass is Mercedes, a car named after a girl over a hundred years ago.
Browse the Supermarket.
On that Thursday night run for groceries, cock an ear in the produce section, you may hear parents scolding a little cherub named: Apple, Cherry, Peach, Pear, Kiwi and yes (drum-roll please) Kumquat!!
Moving toward the check-out listen for: Cocoa, Barley, Granola, Raisin and Rye.
Before we leave the grocery store, may I interject a plea to new parents in search of a name? Please avoid the cleaning products section.
Children as virtues
Does a virtuous name produce a virtuous child? We pray Hope will be optimistic, Charity will be kind, Felicity will make us smile, Chastity will avoid boys with tattoos and Prudence will stay away from Chastity if she doesn't.
But what about the boys?
Can we expect the opposite of them? One day may we encounter charming young men with names like: Rage, Doubt, Despair, Stingy or Angst?
Again we encounter the age old questions Ginger or Mary Ann? Sue or Cinnamon? Jane or Pepper? But what about a girl named Jalapeno?
If she grows up to be anything like her name, don't mess with her!!
Why not name your child after a rock?
One would expect names like Opal, Jade, Ruby, Diamond, and Emerald to appear on the DMV List of drivers, but what's up with Feldspar?
How About Meteorological events?
One can predict with increasing accuracy that we will experience the phenomena of: Rayne, Hale, Rainy, Stormy, Sunny, Cloudy and a Rainbow, but an increasingly popular name in Minnesota is Frosty.
Finally, can anyone be as heartless as a celebrity?
Penn Jillette's named her daughter, Moxie CrimeFighter. Jason Lee's son is Pilot Inspektor, and the booby prize of all time goes to Nicholas Cage's Kryptonian superspawn Kal-el.
So what is a parent to do?
Give them a middle name to opt out with.
When compelled to burden a child with your ego - at least have the courtesy to provide a fall-back position. Show kindness by giving them a common middle name, so when they escape your clutches, they can abbreviate their first name to an initial.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's first name is Francis. Any bets he took care of this on the first day of grade school?
J. Paul Getty was named Jean. Not a name for a ruthless tycoon.
The real scary one is J. Edgar Hoover. With a middle name like Edgar you got to wonder what the "J" stands for. It stands for "John" - go figure. I told you the guy was scary.
Some parents are so cruel they deny their children the chance to opt-out. Think of poor Harry S Truman. Harry is not a bad name, but our 33rd president's middle name was "S". His parents chose the initial to placate his grandpa's, Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young; the initial didn't actually stand for anything.
Finally: There Has Got To Be A Law.
In the spirit of regulating everything for child safety, why not do what the German's do - regulate children's names?
In Germany, a baby's name must reflect the sex of the child, and not endanger the child's well-being. There, creative parents are required to check with the local Das Standesamt (office of vital statistics) before tagging that cute bundle of joy with a name like Whoopi.
Not a bad idea.
© Greg Schiller, 2008
Author: Greg Schiller