or The Crazy Confessions of a Name Addict
“But names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit.”
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and the waters and the animals, and then man, and he let man name everything in the world around him–but not himself. There was a reason for that.
Be careful when you name something or someone, for then you have the power of a god. You are playing god. It is a blessing and a curse.
The other day, we were celebrating a belated birthday at our old Munich watering-hole, Joe Penis, and right as I was about to slip into the gentle arms of a tacoma, I realized something funny: Other than J, sitting right next to me, all three of the guys at the corner of my table were named Martin. Three Germans, all three of them in their late twenties/early thirties. All three Martins.
Incidentally, J’s boss at work is also Martin; my good friend’s roommate’s boyfriend is also called Martin; said good friend recently went on a blind-date with a Martin; and my roommate’s sister is dating a young man with the charming appellation Heinz-Martin. …When I engaged one of my neighborhood Martins in conversation about his name, he confessed to me that at the last company he worked at, TEN PERCENT of the male working force shared his name…
Which got me wondering. I don’t have a problem with the name at all, but what on earth made it so appealing to German women in the late seventies/early to mid eighties? I don’t know, and light research has revealed little in way of a German celebrity with that name or a book with a vampire-protagonist named Martin, but it’s something to consider, here on the brink of having to name my own kid. On the one hand, every Martin I know rocks the name in his own way, but it still would be nice to NOT give my kid a name which will one day be used by ten percent of his colleagues at work due to a freak and inexplicable trend.
People keep asking me if I already have a name picked out for (–) and what it is. Of course I do, a name-obsesser picks out her names WELL in advance of pregnancy, arguably, a TRUE name-freak gets pregnant in large percent for the sheer joy of the naming; but I never tell anyone. I figure when the kid is born, the name will be there and everyone will just have to deal with it and not make faces because it’s done and they won’t want to hurt my feelings. >:P
But it does make me a bit sad–The name I have picked out, I’ve had for a very long time. I first saw it in high-school; I randomly picked up a book in the library and there it was, on the title of the book (also, it is the name of the protagonist). I remember staring at the cover, dazzled by it. I really wanted to meet someone with that name–and never have.
It’s not ‘made-up’, it is obscure, but traditional: I wanted a traditional name, the kind where you could not peg when your kid was born based on name alone. “Oh Jennifer, huh? So you were obviously born in the late eighties/nineties…” is what I wanted to avoid. I didn’t want a Hungarian name, because many of them, in my humble opinion, skirt butt-ugly, though I did want a name my Hungarian relatives could easily pronounce, which actually ruled out my favorite Japanese boy name (it would be regularly butchered by Americans, Germans and Hungarians alike).
And this name, I thought, was perfect–it’s traditional, but not mega-popular like ‘Michael’ (another name I think is very nice, but entirely too used)… I like the short version as well as the long… And since it is old, I thought it would definitely never become trendy, like the recent slew of Aidens and all names rhyming with -aiden, Kayden, Brayden, Jaden, J-dinn, and whatever fucked up spellings people pick.
With my beautiful name, I was ignorant and happy.
And then, out of a masochistic urge, I go online and the TORTURE begins. This name, that I have loved for years; which is orthodox and quite old-fashioned–is actually on the rise. Massively, it would appear. It is on every name list, near the top–some sites even label it as ‘trendy’. TRENDY??? My beautiful name?? Twisting the knife deeper, I poured through message boards and bled while people who are naming their kids monstrosities along the lines of Josabella Isadora Grace are considering this name for their baby boy.
Where did this name even surface?? I want to scream into the Net. Nobody answers. The book I got it from, though it did make a splash in its day, was published in the seventies. It is a classic, but not a widely known one. Nor does anybody mention it as their inspiration. Is there a famous artist, actor or celebrity who has this name now? Not that I can find. Is this the name of Paris Hilton’s last snugglepookie or some dude who won the hearts and minds of the masses during the last season of American Idol? Not that I can see.
I would not mind if the name was simply more popular than I had previously imagined. Ok, fine. Some old-fashioned names are making a comeback (like Henry, protag. of ‘Time Traveller’s Wife’) and that’s fine too–at least there is a reason. I can point and say “Well, people read this popular book by Miss Niffenegger a few years ago and now it has inspired them to name their kid Henry.” But with (–)’s name, I can find no reason and yet it’s rising popularity has a frightening momentum. Literally, from nowhere–it’s on vertical spike straight up and I think–in five years, will this be the next Justin or Aiden? In thirty years, will my kid be sitting in a Mexican restaurant with two other guys who randomly have the same name he does? Will people shake their heads when he introduces himself and laugh inside thinking, “Oh yeah. I remember when your name was so in for like five minutes during 2010-2015… and then everyone got fucking sick of it.” Will my kid be like… “God, my stupid mom couldn’t even go on the fucking internet and do a little research and now I’m stuck with this.”????
I feverishly hope not, because I CAN’T NAME (–) ANYTHING ELSE!!
Consumed in a conflagration of frantic two am paranoia, just when I think of overturning years and years of loving the name, and finding something new, I quickly quelch the urge by going on to Forvo. If you don’t know this site, check it out: It’s a place where you can have just about any word or name pronounced in any language. So, with my guts twisting (don’t laugh, a name-freak can get diarrhea over a shock like this!!), I put on (–)’s name and listen to it through my headphones. Deep calm ensues. It reminds me of rain. The Hungarian word for rain.
It’s his name.
Unless he’s a girl. My mom says “Just name her that even if she is a girl.” (My mom is also stuck on it.) Online rebut from an anonymous woman: “It’s so pathetic when parents give their girls boy names (apparently another popular thing to do right now). It’s like they were disappointed and never got over having a girl.”
Actually, I love girls. Girls are awesome and statistically not as gross or smelly as little boys. But finding a girl’s name has been a real jihad. Looking online depresses me further. It’s like I can smell the cancer chomping away at the soul of my poor America when I read the names people are naming their little girls. Overblown, hyper-floral TUMORS. Princess names on steroids. I do apologize to people who love those sorts and I suppose some would argue that a long, complex name with second and even third name additions packed with cultural and family-history meaning is so nice–but I find it insufferably vulgar.
Some can be good when used judiciously (a good old friend named her daughters Madeleine (sp?) and Amelia, and I think these names are pretty and fit her girls well, but when visions commence of of tubby women wrangling flats of muffins into their carts at Costco, while bellowing “Jezzabella Avery Hope Meyer-Johnson, you stop that this instant!!!!” … I throw up a little, in my mouth.
Or Nevaeh. It’s ‘Heaven’ spelled backwards. Saints preserve us. I bet God threw up a little in his mouth when people started that trend.
And hyphenated last names are like… say wha…? What is this generation going to do in twenty years, when little Jezzabella Avery Hope Meyer-Johnson wants to marry a Colton Alexander Hauser-Dunkleberger? “Honey, the Meyer-Johnson-Hauser-Dunklebergers invited us for dinner… are we free Saturday night?” Haha!
Hyphenated names are passing the fucking buck to your kids, who WILL have to decide either on an entirely new name, or prune down the name somehow if they want to get married. So just take your husband’s name. Or say ‘fuck that noise’ and keep your own name. Decide on one last name for your kids–but hyphenating does nothing. You just, as we say in Hungarian, gave the turd a slap. (The turd may have MOVED, but it’s still there, waiting to be dealt with.)
Gah. Girl names.
I want a kick-ass name for a girl! Unfortunately, the Japanese name I really like for a chick rhymes with my last name. Sigh. And a few girl names I like start with ‘m’. Just like my last name (not into alliteration.) People in the void, do you have any suggestions? Fifth comment post gets to name my female baby.
If nobody volunteers, I may just have to christen the poor thing my own creation.
Eloha. Yes, Eloha. Isn’t that kind of sweet and pretty for a girl?
And I bet nobody will ever guess it’s ‘a-hole’, backwards. ^-^b