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Tuesday, 05 September
About A Boy

Some old friends of ours who now live in Baltimore are about to have their second kid, and they have asked their friends to give advice on naming the thing, their second boy. We are all glad to help, we think. We also tend to think that there is ample evidence of their creeping insanity. For one thing, they live in Baltimore; for another thing, they're having their second kid. But most damning of all, they're asking us for help naming the future li'l gummer.

(I won't reveal the first kid's name, but I will offer that the parents abbreviate it to the term for a pack dog.)

Not all of the names they've come up with are completely deranged:


Well, whatever. I can get behind some of these, though "Griffin" invariably reminds me of Griffin Dunne, most notably of After Hours fame, but then I cannot help but remember that he did another movie called Me & Him, about a guy whose penis talks to him. And "Vincents" have a troubling way of morphing into "Vinces," which if they're extremely lucky end up dating Jennifer Aniston, but more often than not are found shivved to death amidst their hubcap collections. "Sebastian" has that unfortunate playground-bait "ASS" syllable right in the middle of it, but no name is incorruptiible, so it might be all right. "Arthur's" main peril is that the child will someday grow into an "Art," or worse, "Artie." The former tend to become irrelevant political satirists; the latter tend to become people who really enjoy reading irrelevant political satirists.

Other name choices they offer are far more troubling (parentheses suggest the shortened versions of the proper names that the parents would presumably opt for):

Jasper (Jazz)
Dashiell (Dash)

"JAZZ! FINISH YOUR GREEN BEANS!" "Jazz still isn't sleeping through the night." These are a couple of sentences that the world doesn't need to ever hear, you know? And--this is horrible--I just now came up with another one. "Jazz is failing to thrive." Please no. The rest mostly are unspeakable for themselves: Viggo? Fuck that, why not Aragorn? Similarly, Axel. Why not Foley? Or Triple Lutz? Or Jumper Cabel?

Anyone who lived through the seventies should not be countenancing "Leif." Anyone who lived through "Seinfeld" should not be countenancing "Cosmo." M*A*S*H should put the kibosh on "Reidar," and The Incredibles should do the same for D*A*S*H, to say nothing of potentially damaging premature ejaculation issues later in life. "Honey, want to fuck?" "Oh, sure, let's dash one off."

Look, my name is Skot (yes, it's really spelled Scott, but it just looks weird to me any more--long, boring story), and my middle name is Allen. WOO WOO! That's about as thrilling as lettuce. But combine those with my last initial--K--and you get the unlovely three-letter monogram "SAK." So I know a little something about parents who kind of fucked the dog when it came to considering the ramifications of, say, entering SAK onto video game high scores. So I'm going to offer some alternatives.

My leading candidate is Antoine Lavoisier. Yes, it's a bit of a mouthful, but nothing is going to shut up a schoolyard bully when that kid is picking up his teeth and shrieking through a bloody mouth like the phrase, "My namesake disproved the concept of the phlogiston, you fucking beef experiment!" This will leave bullies reeling, especially when the tyke uncorks the devastating followup, "I WAS BEHEADED!"

But if that seems too daring, they can always go for the more succinct and more contemporary Mike Post, an homage to the Emmy- and Grammy-winning composer of TV theme songs. Little Mike can regale his fellow kindergarteners with jauntily whistled renditions of things like the themes to "The Rockford FIles," "Hardcastle & McCormick," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and, most awesomely, "Law & Order." He'll be the most popular kid in school, particularly when he secretly whispers to his first girlfriend, while clumsily fingering her under the bleachers, "Unlike the first Mike Post, may his Casio live forever, I was not originally named Leland Michael Postil." Hot!

Now my friends obviously have some Baroque tastes, judging by some of their initial picks. I'm not unsympathetic. So how about Gossamer the Beltless? It kind of rolls off the tongue, is memorable, and can be shortened to "Goss" if they really want to. Also, think of how much they'll save on belts! (This may be offset by the attendant increased therapy bills.) But really, I'm totally charmed by the idea of a teacher taking attendance and shouting, "Gossamer? Gossamer? The Beltless?"

Maybe too far. For pure pop culture, you can't do worse than Joe Camel. Beloved by children and adults alike--well, the smokers, anyway, and the ones without cancer, and there's a lot of us! Mostly children--the only downside I can think of is, again, the cruelty of kids who willfully mishear Joe Camel as "Joseph Campbell," which could lead to traumatizing taunts, e.g., "You totally don't have a thousand faces! You have one stupid face!" or, perhaps in the lavatory, "Follow your piss!" accompanied by painful tugging on the child's penis as the screaming unfortunate is led around the bathroom, urinating in frantic spurts from his tortured member.

A minimalist option is to go for the flashy and memorable. The TV series "Batman" taught us the power of all-caps exclamatories, so my friends might want to go with something short and punchy, like "ZAP!" or "POW!" or "GIRL!" or "PUD!" These sorts of names also might spur the child's development and knowledge aquisition, thanks to his state of constant readiness and gasping fear.

And finally, there is always the name that I cannot figure out why nobody has ever picked before. It cuts across all kinds of cultural and ethnic lines. I am speaking of course of the world's most perfect name: MC Batman Carl Yastrzemski Pussyhammer. Find me a young man in this country who wouldn't be proud to carry that moniker.

I know whereof I speak. I only hope I've been of some help.

Signing off for now,


Wordplay | Skot | 05 Sep, 2006 |

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


I can second that living in Baltimore is a form of insanity, one from which I've long suffered; depending on how Baltimore-happy they are, you might have trouble talking them out of Dashiell; perhaps you could redirect to H.L. or Edgar Allen, so long as you can steer them well clear of William Donald...

Comment number: 008121   Posted by: jwer on September 6, 2006 04:44 AM from IP:

I had a friend in college who wanted to name her first Romulus Wayne, after a street sign on a highway near Detroit.

Never happened. Pitty.

Comment number: 008126   Posted by: jamie on September 6, 2006 05:57 AM from IP:

My dad always favored Eustace Alley-Ooop. None of us ever actually acheived that hallowed moniker, but maybe one of my children will someday prove worthy

Comment number: 008127   Posted by: Jado on September 6, 2006 06:33 AM from IP:

Term for a pack dog. Term for a pack dog. AUGH!

Comment number: 008128   Posted by: Kate on September 6, 2006 06:49 AM from IP:

The hubs' initials are PMS-- he relishes signing with them. I guess one learns to roll with whatever one is given.

My mother always threatened to call me by "George." This, because of the cartoon character that named all his unwilling (sentient) pets George. It should be noted that she hates cartoons; I suspect a deep and hitherto unexamined form of malice.

Comment number: 008179   Posted by: Linda on September 6, 2006 12:46 PM from IP:

I'd offer a couple of obscure Simpsons names: Hercules Rockefeller or Rembrandt Q. Einstein. But then again, my middle name is "Eugene."

Comment number: 008183   Posted by: Andrew on September 6, 2006 04:55 PM from IP:

Dash. Sigh.

Comment number: 008184   Posted by: Anil on September 6, 2006 07:41 PM from IP:

Isn't one of Bruce Willis' kids named Pud?

Comment number: 008185   Posted by: Broad on September 6, 2006 08:16 PM from IP:

Once had a friend over here with Beech as a surname.
His name was Rocky and his sister’s name Sandy.

Comment number: 008186   Posted by: Lung the Younger on September 7, 2006 12:46 AM from IP:

My brother went to school with an unfortunate girl named Fonda Cox. He had to show me the yearbook pic before I'd believe him.

Comment number: 008187   Posted by: C. on September 7, 2006 06:05 AM from IP:

This is not terribly interesting, but my middle name is Lynn. So I'm a homophone of an instrument, and the nurse scolded my mother for naming me like this. I kinda like it, but it's no "Fonda Cox." Jeez, someone hates their child -- Fonda isn't even a name!

Comment number: 008188   Posted by: Amanda on September 7, 2006 09:14 AM from IP:

Make that MC Batman Carl Yastrzemski al-Pussy de hammer and I think you just might be onto something that really does cross all ethnic and cultural lines (a few other lines, too, come to think of it). What do I know, though? I named my kid the same name his father, grandfather, greatgrandfather and great-greatgrandfather all have/had. We don't really value originality here, you know?

Comment number: 008189   Posted by: Marsha on September 7, 2006 07:10 PM from IP:

Make that MC Batman Carl Yastrzemski al-Pussy de hammer and I think you just might be onto something that really does cross all ethnic and cultural lines (a few other lines, too, come to think of it). What do I know, though? I named my kid the same name his father, grandfather, greatgrandfather and great-greatgrandfather all have/had. We don't really value originality here, you know?

Comment number: 008190   Posted by: Marsha on September 7, 2006 07:11 PM from IP:

I went to school with a guy named Rich Bilz. he was in my chem class freshman year of college. I believe he went on to become--you guessed it-- an investment banker.

Comment number: 008191   Posted by: Suzanne on September 8, 2006 12:45 AM from IP:

The manager of my local supermarket is named Rad Fish. Makes me smile every time I go in there.

Comment number: 008207   Posted by: Forkboy on September 9, 2006 07:13 PM from IP:

Pressing the ESC key after typing in a character or part of a word while in iChat, Mail, TextEdit, etc. will reveal a drop down menu. This menu contains all the words your computer knows that begin with that combination of letters! Pretty neat, and a great time saver!!

Comment number: 008389   Posted by: Johanson on September 19, 2006 11:30 PM from IP:

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