What's in a Name (Other Than a Lifetime of Mortification, if Your Parents Saddle You With The World's Worst Name)
True confession time: I was a total under-achiever in the baby name game.
Apparently, there's more to picking out a baby name than considering such obvious issues as how easy it is to spell it (and whether there are multiple variant spellings), ease of pronunciation (and how well the name carries across a crowded playground), and whether the name triggers any horrible childhood memories for you and/or your partner. For example: Did a kid with the same name make your life miserable when you were in Grade 4? If so, you may want to scratch that name off your list.
I suppose my over-the-top practicality explains my fascination with "What's Your Name?" -- The Star's celebration of babies and their often one-of-a-kind baby names: I get to hear the stories about how parents decided to toss baby-name traditions out the window and come up with something uniquely wonderful for their uniquely wonderful little ones.
The trend towards unusual baby names -- which started out with the celebrities -- has carried over into the book world as well. The latest baby name book to cross my desk -- A is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books by Lorilee Craker (Centre Street, $14.50) – is a lot of fun for bookish types. Of course, I had to overlook the Ann-without-an-e slam (something those of us Anns who happen to spell our names the efficient way have had to contend with all our lives).
Here's the author's advice on "Anne" as a name choice:
"Anne: Take another peek at this sleek, ageless stalwart. Say it out loud, and it really has the softest, prettiest sound. But you must use an e at the end, especially if you loved the irrepressible, carrot-topped orphan Anne of Green Gables. Many young mothers have bestowed this clean-cut classic as a middle name to honor Anne with an e, but it also makes an elegant first name."
If Ann(e) isn't quite your style, how about India?
"India: I highly doubt that anyone would want to name their baby girl after uptight India Wilkes from Gone with the Wind, but that's not to say that you wan't use the lilting, sumpuous name anyway. Beautiful, silky-smooth Indiia is richly exotic without being alien. Perhaps these attributes prompted glamorous and offbeat [offbeat?] singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan to choose Indida for her daughter. Like Jemima and Araminta, India has long been favored by the British upper crust. Indie is a little hipster of a nickname, too."
I've always found it easier to pick out names for girls. (Ditto for baby clothing, too.) Obviously, this author found it a struggle, too. She's suggested Ajax, for example, as a possibility, while admitting that people may think of the cleanser while bending over to sneak a peek at your little one:
"Ajax. Like Orion, Ajax is a way-out-there possibility that folks will get used to fast. Oh, eyebrows will raise, no doubt about it, but essentially they are already familiar with Ajax because they've been attacking soap scum with it for years. Interestingly, the cleaner's original slogan was 'Stronger than dirt,' a reference to the mythical character Ajax the Great....This is a tough, slick-sounding name with a flashy nickname, Jax."
Not so keen on Ajax? You can also try on Huckleberry or Iago, if you'd like.
If your taste in baby names is similar to mine (a little more mainstream) you'll still find plenty of baby name inspiration. How about Julia, Alice, or Madeline? Dylan, Jordan, or Sebastian? Those names are as suitable for a literary hero or heroine as the newest member of your family, don't you think?