Or You’re Going to Call Your Baby What? (Part 1)
About this time last year, we started to get serious about the whole baby name thing. We had a great list for boys, but let’s face it, Jenn was not going to let me name our daughter Strong-O. So we started down the path that all expectant parents eventually wander onto — the one that leads to that section of the book store titled “Baby Names.” It’s a horribly stupid section where books truly can be judged by their cover. 90,001 Baby Names always trumps 40,000 Baby Names that Work For You! And who would waste their time with The Absolute Best 1,000 Names for Your Baby? Only those that can’t count. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that we bought a baby name book — but not one with a numeric title.)
You also have to be careful not to hang out there too long because all the quiet murmuring will drive you crazy. Not at first, but eventually you will wake up screaming, the faint whispers of “Jacob? no… Olivia? no… Ryan? no… Madison? no… Genevieve?… Tatum?… Deandre?… Deandre?… Deandre?…” still echoing in your head.
We were driven by one overriding principle – not another Jennifer. That is to say, not another name that occurred with the same frequency as Jennifer did for babies born back in the 70’s. Our guide was the Social Security Administration – specifically the Popular Baby Names database that aggregates the top 1000 most frequently occurring names for every decade of this past century. (Since 1990, you can see the breakdown for each year.)
If you visit Most Popular Names of the 1970’s, you’ll see that smack at the top of the list is Jennifer. It was the most popular name of the whole decade, and that explains why there were always between 3 and 25 Jennifers in every class from Kindergarten to High School. Jenn didn’t want our daughter to have to go through that sort of identity dilution. I was more fortunate; Benjamin was only the 42nd most popular.
The names that we were initially drawn to were somewhat disappointingly at the top of the 2002 list. In retrospect, it isn’t that surprising; those names probably seeped into our heads because they were popular. At any rate, we tried to delve a little deeper with the ultimate goal of striking a balance between an unique name and an albatross.
As we discovered, it’s difficult to decide on a name in a vacuum. It’s even worse to start asking other people.
Coming tomorrow: Well, then how about…