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Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's in a name?

Seems that names are news these days.

Last week when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, after everyone finished asking "who is she?," many followed with the question "Where'd she get those names?," referring to her children Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig.

The New York Daily News ran a story explaining some of those choices, including the note that some of the names come from Alaskan cities.

Then on Friday, Cincinnati Bengals player Chad Johnson announced that he's legally changed his last name from Johnson to Ocho Cinco, Spanish for "eight five," to reflect his #85 jersey.

I'll give him this, Ocho Cinco sure is a lot more fun to say than Johnson. And I suppose Ocho Cinco fits on the jersey better than "ochenta y cinco," which is actually the Spanish translation of 85.

It's not just the rich and famous who feel the need to change their monikers. Bill, a friend of ours from church, changed his name to Will when he changed employment. I'm not sure what made him feel more like a Will than the Bill he'd been for 30 some years. Maybe Will seemed more powerful or more intelligent or maybe he was secretly channeling Commander Will Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation? Several of us tease him about his mid-life crisis and now refer to him as WillBill.

All of this makes me think about how we named our children. We did the customary perusing of baby name books and checked out the listings of the 100 most popular names (we didn't want anything in the Top 10).

I read the obituaries faithfully, in search of good names that were no longer being used by someone. And I wanted names that could have nicknames because growing up, I was the only one of my siblings whose name couldn't be shortened. Michelle was Shelley. Jeffrey was Jeff. Angela was Angie. I was just plain old Amy and I always felt gypped.

Mike had his own test of a name's worthiness -- how it would sound upon introduction.

For a boy: "Blank M., damn glad to meet ya!'

For a girl: "Blank M., so pleased to meet you."

So we came up with what I think are three good, solid names that have nicknames (which we use) and that are not overly popular, but are "normal" enough to be found on a pencil (another prerequisite).

Someday Annie might choose to go by Anna, which is fine by me. I already call Robbie "Rob," which suits him, I think. Charlie will always be Charlie -- never Chuck, except to his 2nd grade math teacher to whom I gave a dispensation to use the name.

As for me, I'm still Amy with no nickname. But the name I prefer the most is "Mom."


Mike Magan said...

really funny, I had forgotten about our litmus test

Anonymous said...

Really no nick name for you? They never shortened my name just changed it around. Aim, Mamy, Mam's, My grandpa wanted a boy and called me Amos.