Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Name Game

I love to name things. Those who know me know how lovingly and carefully we selected our daughters' names -- to me a name is like the shortest form of poetry, a poem that gets more play than any other poems ever written. I am that person who loves to be consulted by other people trying to think up names for their babies. I never thought I would be that person who can't decide what to name the kid.
But Epu and I have been deadlocked ever since we found out we are having a boy. I had the girl name all picked out, and although Epu had reservations about it, I think he could have been convinced. I might as well spill: I wanted to name her Myrtle Coraline and call her Cora. Yeah, a baby name inspired by a Tim Burton animated feature. What can I say? I loved that name the moment I heard it in the movie trailer. And Myrtle was the name of my great grandmother, with whom I was very close as a child. I shied from using such a -- let's be frank -- ugly name with the first two daughters, but I thought that if I conceived a third daughter, this could be nothing more than fate or some occult influence of my dead great-grandma telling me, Use the name! Use the name or keep getting pregnant with girls forevermore!
But now, there will be no Cora. There will be a boy, and boys are way harder to name.
There are concrete reasons why this is so. One reason is that we are not religious, and most traditional boys names in our culture come straight from the Bible. Think about it! There is a smattering of names from Greek mythology, all of which we have already rejected -- Jason, Hector, Agamemnon. There are the made-up trendy names, and you KNOW we are not going there. A deep apology to those out there who have named your sons Jayden or Hunter or Accountant, but those names are not for us.
Which leaves a shallow pool with which to work the poetry of syllables needed to build a good name. We actually have two favorite first names picked. The big problem is thinking of a MIDDLE name that goes with either of them.
We can't just combine our two favorite names. Why? Because both names are my father's names. And my husband, although he likes my dad perfectly well, does not especially want to give our kid the same exact first and middle name as his grandfather. Fair enough.
I have other names I like, but none of them, so far, sounds good in combination with either of our two favorite names.
There are other "rules" tying our hands. Because our favorite first names both end in "s" sounds, we have ruled out any middle names starting with S. This means no "Story," which was always one of my favorite boy names. Because our last name ends in "ins," we have ruled out any of the MANY boys' names that end in an "en" or "in." So no Caden, even if we didn't hate that name.
I also have a prejudice against one-syllable middle names. I prefer two or three or more.
Now that we have eliminated, say, 90 percent of all male names, I find myself running into a most maddening problem: The theft of boy names by the parents of girls. "Ashley" follows all my rules and sounds just lovely, but no. Cause that's a girl's name now. Epu has even ruled out boys names that SOUND too girly to him -- Lorne, Leander, Lysander.
Which makes it extremely ironic that I vetoed his top choice for a middle name because it is too girly -- Valentine. Sure, I like that name, but talk about making the kid into playground sharkbait. Valentine?
We have 18-20 weeks to go, so this is not what you would call an urgent matter. But it's the kind of thing you can't stop your mind from thinking about -- like when you forget someone's name and won't rest until you remember it. Maybe we have forgotten our son's perfect name, and it'll come to us when we least expect it.
The name discussions can be fun, but they often get annoying too. They usually consist of one of us spouting names and the other person saying, "No." But Epu rarely suggests any serious names -- his ideas are like, "How about Tiberius? How about Bilbo? How about Janus Rainus Heinous Anus?" Often I give him honest suggestions -- "Alder? Clover? Maple?" (I like botannical names.) But eventually I end up in Sillyland too: "Hillary? Chelsea? Captain Poopypants?"
In the meantime, Epu brought home the first baby name book we have ever acquired -- I thought those things were for losers, seriously -- and I've been checking out the classic Baby Name Voyager as well as this one I just found out about today -- Nymbler.com. In case you haven't played with the Voyager before, don't click there unless you have an hour to kill -- it tells you the ranking of any name you type in over decades of social security data and is endlessly fascinating to play with.
Nymbler seems kind of fun, too. It's supposed to be like Pandora, but for names. You tell it up to six names you like, and it comes back with suggestions of names you might also like.
Only problem is, it said I would like Caden.

17 comments:

Kori said...

You can totally poach my daughter's first name for a boy's middle, just switch the "ie" back to "y" like it was originally conceived. It is still strongly a boy's name---I even know of a Hollywood star whose boy has the name, which means you don't have to worry about that, "what do you mean you named your kid the same clever name I came up with" blues immediately after birth (as I know you have already done with Nutmeg). Hollywood stars don't tend to imitate each other. :)

I LOVE the name game---more reason for us to have a playdate soon.

Mikaila said...

My great grandmother's name was Myrtle, too. :)

Kori said...

Wait a minute---what about your maiden name for a middle name? That falls into all of your parameters, right? It would work with either your dad's first or middle name as the baby's first name.

Sara said...

I agree...boy's names are WAY harder to pick than girl's names. We didn't completely decide on Harrison's name until he was actually born and we saw his little face. But, it is fun to play the name game. Good luck!! :-)

Felicia said...

If our little girl turns out to be a surprise boy, his middle name will be Joseph - which is about as biblical as you can get, so I know it doesn't help you. (It's DH's great-grandpa's first name, and my grandpa's middle name.)

But... his first name will be Bennett. Feel free to use that if it would work for you. We've never met IRL and I wouldn't be offended at all. :)

What about some of the other Greek or Roman mythology names? Although a lot of the ones I can think of are short, so that might not fit your syllable requirements... Or what about Norse - Odin?

So for those of us who don't know, are you not going to share the two favorite first names? It might help me come up with something...

Bert said...

Ha! I like the idea that you know the perfect name and just forgot it. How lovely!

Bert said...

P.S. I like the maiden name idea, too. Yours is a cool one. Lucky you!

JennySF said...

Aww. No Agamemmnon?

We ran into the same issue - so easy to pick girls' names, and so hard to pick boys'! For similar reasons, too. I'm not religious but rather like ye olde time names (big fan of Caleb), while my husband was raised ultra-religious and can't bear the biblical references.

Have you considered family surnames for the middle name? Look back a few generations, there might be one that fits the bill.

Personally I always wanted to name a kid "Ajax." Love the name from the Illiad, too bad it's a cleanser.

Carrie Purins' novel said...
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Carrie said...

Kori and Bert -- Really? You like the combo of Kirby and my married name? My life would be so much easier if I did. The sound combo to me has always been like curdled milk, sort of repeating the worst sounds in each, and I have assiduously avoided using both names for myself even though it would have been far simpler than what I do -- maintain one name for personal life and another for professional life. At any rate, Epu's reaction when i mention using my Dad's first AND last name was NOT POSITIVE.

For those who are into this enough to follow the comment thread, I can say that the main name we are considering is VERY Biblical -- James. The alternate name is a much, much less common Norse name so I won't mention it in case we end up going with it. Like with the girls, I don't really want to use my son's real name online but if it ends up to be James, that's not really pinpointing him that much.

Felicia -- Epu has proposed a lot of Greek and Roman names, but I don't really care for them. Actuallly, the "alternative" name we have is originally Roman and then Norse.

JennySF -- We have thought about the family surnames. One of them, Nelson, I was a strong advocate of before we found out our last baby was going to be a girl, but then I found out Epu REALLY didn't like it. I really wanted that one because that was my Grandma Myrtle's maiden name. One of them is Casperson, and I thought Casper might be fun, but it hasn't really gained much traction. Did you know that Casper and Jasper are the same name? They both refer to a certain gemstone and originally mean "treasurer."

I DID like EJ's name, and then I heard another slightly different name that I thought would be lovely. But here's another problem. I like a lot of names that end in "ly." According to the baby name book we just checked out, the "ly" in all these names is "lea," as in meadow. So I said, how about Everly? He says, sounds too much like "Beverly." Hello, ALSO originally a boy's name! I REALLY like Ashley and wonder if I might be able to talk him into that.

Kori said...

Well, Ashley is very "Gone With the Wind," which I can respect. The child will need to spend quality time in South Carolina or Georgia to soak in the atmosphere, then he can have ladies fighting over him.

I wonder if someone like Ashton Kutcher ended up with that name because his parents liked Ashley and Asher, but they had been a) taken by girls and b) not been willing to go straight Old Testament.

Did we talk about Everly on the phone the day that we were swapping boy names? I ask because I had a dream that you had named your kid Everly as a first name just this week---it wasn't the point of the dream, but we were heading over to see you, and I said to EJ that Nutmeg and Pebbles had an "Everly brother." Even in the dream I couldn't believe how corny I had been.

Are there any authors whose names you'd like to honor? That worked with bambina #1, after all. How about James Almonzo? lol

Artist4life925 said...

I know how you feel. I'm already planning and hubby doesn't wanna even talk about boys names. We already have a girls name, and we both like weird names, weird spellings, etc.

What about Beckett to go along with the Bennett that someone suggested :)

And the Casperoso reminded me of Caruso.....which I've rarely heard in my few years of teaching.

Good luck! The Roman/Norse name curiosity is killing me! Mostly because I might like it myself and hubby might like it too....because we're both weird (creative) like that...

alli said...

Don't do it. I have a friend from growing up whose middle name was girly sounding...even if it was a legitimate name for a boy...and he just uses that initial. You have to prod to get him to tell you the name. And, your little guy will already have 2 older sisters who try and dress him up and stuff...and Ashley coordinates so well with Pebbles' name that you'll find yourself going no, no, the youngest is a son.

Boy names are hard...or harder...because there are few that feel different. Of course, I liked the "en" sounding at the end, so a bunch of ours don't do it for you. For some reason, I figure I should suggest Holden to you. Not sure how you do with Salinger...Dustin was on the list, but we weren't sure about Dusty as a nickname. David didn't like Ethan. We have a family friend with Calvin (goes by Cal...and it is just a coincidence that mom is a UC alum...or maybe not). Hmmm...I keep feeding you the en/in sounds. Just goes to show you how hard it is to avoid the sounds you like.

C. Willingham said...

Okay, a little late to this discussion, but AHHH!!! I'm due in 9 weeks and my husband suggested "James Tiberius--you know, after your father" (he's just James, not James Tiberius). It took an internet search to realize he was trying to name our son after Captain Kirk. Are they all such smart-asses?!

Notta Wallflower said...

Hmm.. I like family names, but H never did. Luckily we had a boy because that was the one name we could agree on, although it was not a family name for either of us. I named K's middle name after my dad's middle name - Douglas. I don't think it's Biblical, and it's definitely old school. Some of my grandfather's family names are interesting and would not fit. I don't know my mom's side very well, unfortunately. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

LOL--my husband kept calling our genderless fetus Tiberious and then "Tibby" for short. Star Trek nerds! It caught on so well that I was worried she would always be known as Tibby once she was born.

I always prefer the "strong" sounding male Irish names like Ronan or Conan. I've also always loved the name Finn--the female version being Fiona--but I think Finn works for boy or girl. And I know it's one of those "girly" names and my husband would have never gone for it but I think that Shannon makes a great boy's name.

Kim said...

I love love love names and wouldn't you know, for my first three kids the then husband totally rained on my parade and insisted on totally Biblical names. Bummer because I totally love Irish names LOL. BUT anyway the now husband was a lot more tolerant and so our two boys got the good old Irish/Scot names.

But I digress. A GREAT resource that I used and love, even though I'm done having kids is The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Somebody. (I don't have the book in front of me and can't remember her last name).

The reason it's great is that you can go and find the name or middle name of your existing children and the book lists suggested sibling (male and female) names for them!SO AWESOME! And you can just go from there. Really cool.

Best of luck!!