Tuesday, November 09, 2004

What's In a Name?

Last night Chris and I decided on a full name for our son (I'm not going to announce it here any time soon, so don't ask). We were always in agreement that we would not pick a popular name of the moment like many of our friends have. We decided not to pick any top 10 (or 100) names. I don't care how much I like a name, I'm not going to like it if there are four other little boys in his class with the same name. In fact, one other little boy in his class with the name would piss me off. There was always another Rebecca in my class and I hated it. There can be only one.

That being said, we don't want to give our son a too unique (i.e. weird) name that people don't know how to pronounce it or find it particularly distracting. My parents were teenagers when I was born and while "Rebecca Lynn" may not be my first choice for a name, I'm damn thankful I wasn't named Choco-Cherrie Moonspasm Livingston. If I was given the responsibility of naming a girl when I was 15, I most likely would have doomed her to the life of a stripper or weathergirl. For the official record, I have no complaints about my name.

For a couple months Chris and I went back and forth with ideas, well mostly they were my ideas and he would dismiss them with "lame" or something that implied our son's manhood would be impeded with such as name. He'd say, "Can you imagine some girl saying 'Stick it to me ________'" to which I'd reply, "I can't imagine any woman saying 'stick it to me anybody.' What the hell kind of books are you reading?"

In September we had a breakthrough, it was as if the magical fate fairies were twirling around our eyes, we both spotted the same name in a book and we lit up. Not only the first name we ever agreed on, the first name we both really liked. As a poet, I instantly loved both the meaning and the sound. This was a huge relief to me. I'm not one of those people who can just wait until the last minute or until he's born and make a decision then. I'm a planner. Not having a plan would means no sleep and a lot of inappropriate vomiting. Sure, unexpected events arise and plans change all the time. But there still has to be a plan.

For the next month in a half we debated middle names. I made one requirement, a syllable requirement to balance the first and name. We debated about 8 names. I ordered numerology reports on them. Chris favored the ones that implied our son would grow up to be sadist. The report he favored most said:

"Powerful, a conqueror, devours the weak and rules the strong. The name *** Morrow reflects money and power. It is a carnivore, a winner at all cost. . . has the power and potential to achieve great things. Whatever the enterprise, it strives to be the best and most successful in its field. Extremely competitive and not afraid of challenges or challengers. A visionary, a realist, and a planner. Discipline and perseverance. Dynamic and efficient.

Rewards the faithful and hardworking employee, but has no tolerance for the incompetent."

Basically, Chris' dream son.

I leaned more towards the ones that balanced strength with compassion, implied creativity and charm. The report and name I favored most said:

"The name ***Morrow induces a sense of freedom and adventure, risks and rewards, gambling and daring acts of courage. The name has passion and excitement. . .can do anything, is extremely capable, and a true survivor. It is also highly flexible, can adapt to new circumstances quickly, and has excellent reflexes; often, important decisions are made in seconds, seemingly impulsively even. But due to sharp intuition and even sharper intelligence, those decisions are almost always right on the money. Youthful, dynamic and energetic, this name draws people who want things to be "different," and don't like the tried and proven.

Social, outgoing, something skirting the acceptable - or even pushing the envelope of what is legal."

Basically, my dream son.

It's amazing the difference a middle name makes.

Last night at dinner with Chris' family (they don't know the name yet either, it's being announced at my Pgh baby shower in two weeks), someone (unbeknownst to them) made a comment that made the middle name decision for us. My choice reigned supreme! Not that I ever questioned that happening. Like I said, there can be only one.

So giddily I called up the Kabalarians to get a report on the name. It turns out they can't do a full report until the birth date is known, but the lovely lady on the phone did give me a few preliminary consultations on names and suggested I get a report on my name to get an understanding of what its all about so I can decide if I want to do a report on my son. First she went over "Rebecca Livingston" with me and it seemed OK -- she talked about the conflict my name creates between my sensitive and abrasive side, how I want to blend and stand out at the same time and she went on about how creative I am. Ah flattery. I was liking what I was hearing.

She talked about the "Morrow" name and said it was spontaneous and disorganized, more the merrier type people and argumentative. Not exactly how I'd describe the Morrows, but it got me thinking and Chris can be really scattered and he's way more spontaneous than me and he's always inviting people along at the last minute without any regard to how I feel about having them. And we do love to bicker. If a few days go by and he doesn't pick on me, I start to worry he's stopped loving me.

Finally, she consulted me on our first name choice with Morrow (she said until they had a birth date, the middle name didn't come into the equation). Here's the doom and gloom. She laid it out straight to me: It's not a strong name. He'd be artistic with high ideals, but would trust people too much, be gullible. He's be run by his feelings, caring and charming and would lack confidence and search out approval from others. This is not what I wanted to hear. If he shot the president to impress some girl, I would have to live with the fact it was because of what I named him.

I did what I often do in times of crisis, I turned to Tender Buttons. She said, "Why don't you just accept that your child will take after you and be caring, creative, charming and gullible?  Don't let the Kabalarians control you!  Name your son what you want to name him.  No name is perfect.  They didn't say conniving, thieving and stinky!"

Look you little snot, I'm not gullible, I have faith in mankind and the future. I embrace optimism.  I don't sit around preparing myself for the worst when times are good just so I can get in a lot of practice at being disappointed and suffering. If we can never raise our hopes or find solace in others, why did we ever move out of the caves and into mud huts? I think it's better to get you hopes up and be disappointed rather than always expect and accept that crap sandwich.

And yes, Tender Buttons, you're right. I will not let the Kabalarians control me. No I will not. The name stays!


At 9:29 PM, Blogger randatola said...


At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, so:
1) you like to be picked on
2) you are not in fact in favor of strong names, destroyer of worlds nor controlling bastards
3) you are overly sensitive about what people want to think about you

Are you a girl?

At 2:09 AM, Blogger Reb said...

Yes, a mean girl with an excellent memory. Watch your back, monkey boy.

At 2:26 AM, Blogger Abulsme said...

I may not be able to take the suspense!

It better not be based on the periodic table! That's mine! All mine!

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Peter said...

You will always be Choco-Cherrie Moonspasm Livingston to me.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Charles said...

My nephew was born yesterday (9 pounds--can you believe it?!), so this was a timely post for me.

They named him Ben, a name I really like, but he shares my last name, so he's Ben Jensen. And I did the worst uncle thing ever--I complained about the name when they first told me, even though I knew deep down inside it was the worst uncle-thing to do. But really--Ben Jensen!

I work in the Maternity section of our Gap a lot, and the other day I told a pregnant woman, "If you need help, my name's Charlie." And she said, "That's what we're thinking about naming my son." So we got into a little discussion about the name--how I like having a "real" full name (Charles) that I can use professionally but have this cool/nice-guy sounding nickname to go by. And for a while, I went by Chazz, a nickname my dad has always called me, and my whole family has, for a very long time, called me CR, which is my favorite nickname. I hated my name growing up, but now I love it, and I hardly ever run into Charlies who are over the age of 8, and at that age, they're so so cute anyway that it doesn't matter.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Yes, Charles, bad uncle!!! Actually, I have a number of friends who've picked names for their kids that I hate too and I want to say something, but that's the time to clamp up. People get really upset. And so would I. I just do what I do best which is talk about them behind their backs. Get all my "can you believe it that kid's going to be such a wanker!" out my system that way.

Aside from the straight rhyme of Ben Jen (oh, thinking Bennifer here, luckily nobody will be talking about that in that kid's lifetime, we really really hope) -- Benjamin is turning into one of those wildly popular names this decade. Too popular for my taste. It's probably shot to #1 in Pittsburgh in the past few weeks due to their new wunder quarterback. Go Stillers!

C.C. Moonspasm

p.s. my grandfather's name was Charles and it's a beautiful name -- except when it's turned into "Chucky" or "Chuck." Although I admit those are fun nicknames.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Tony said...

How about Anthony William Morrow-Livingston?



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