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What’s in a Name?

I have a friend who is about 3 months pregnant. One of the best parts of being pregnant, from my own memory, was the picking out names. But many parents only concentrate on the fun, and forget about the responsibility.

Choosing a name for another human being is a huge responsibility that way too many people take far too lightly. Name your daughter Destiny or Cherry, and you’ve just set her up for a lifetime of stripper jokes. Give your boy a common name like John, and you’ve set him up for an identity crisis as he tries to make himself stand out from all the other Johns. When naming a child, the margin for error is huge.

Which is why I don’t understand why anyone would put that responsibly in the hands of a pregnant, hormonal woman.


Anyway, we were talking and Desdemona* confirmed that she was expecting a boy. Then she started listing off her top picks for names. Her number one choice? Applebee.

Yeah, I’m sure you have the same horror stricken look on your face right now as I did when she told me. When she noticed my look, she laughed a little.

“It’s because me and John met at Applebee’s. I figured it would be cute.”

I responded, “Yeah, it would be cute…for about 3 minutes. But when the novelty wears off, your kid would still have to spend the rest of his life with that name.”

Look people, naming a child isn’t like creating a novelty license plate. You don’t get points for creativity. Instead, you just get a little kid, with a really weird name, who grows up to be a bitter adult.

Essa Alroc isn’t my real name (shocker, right?) It actually came from a modified anagram of my own name, minus a few repetitive letters. My real name is an 18 letter monster of a thing, that while pretty, is less than practical.

When I first started writing, and realized my own incredible genius, I also realized that eventually, I might be called upon to sign one of my books or give an autograph. I had nightmares about being at a book signing, with hundreds of angry fans watching, as I took twenty minutes per customer while I signed my gigantic name. I pictured hardcover novels that had to be made 2 feet wide to fit my name.

I thought back to the frustration I had as a child, when my teacher gave “Amy Smith” a gold star because she figured out how to spell her name on the first day. It took me the majority of the first grade.

I thought about the awkward silence every time I sign a check or credit card receipt, when it takes just a little bit too long to get it done.

I thought about the frustration I feel every time I call a company to make an appointment, and need to repeat my name twice, spell it, and then repeat it again.

I thought about those obnoxious fucking government forms, where there never seems to be enough boxes to fit my name in.

I thought of all that, and I then I elected to change my name. I just wish I had thought of doing it sooner.

Parents, when naming your child, please be practical. Naming a baby isn’t just a fun chance to pick out the trendy new thing or throw a dart at a baby book. It is the single most important thing that you will give your child.

So try not to fuck it up.

* Name changed so my pregnant friend will understand what it is to have a horrible name.

8 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. You’re right – pregnant women and hip-hop stars shouldn’t be allowed to name their own children. Actually, the latter group shouldn’t be allowed to have children in the first place.

    And, since we’re baring our souls, I might as well confess my real name is “Jack Scorpio.” I’m out of the Witness Protection Program now, and all the other guilty parties are dead, so I can be forthright.

    I attended a Catholic parochial school from kindergarten through 8th grade. In 1st grade, they had our names spelled out in block letters on little placards, so we’d know how to write them. I looked at mine once and figured it out quickly. But, when I told the nun who taught the class, she jumped down my throat and told me never to do that (not look at my name plate) again. Stupid penguin bitch! I did it anyway.

    • The main lesson you probably learned? Catholics don’t like it when you ask questions. You’re just supposed to have ‘faith’. Of course, if you’d just had faith, you probably wouldn’t be able to spell your name today.I think you made the right choice.

  2. I suggested two name’s to my friend for his baby. He’s greek, so I offered two alternatives, depending on the gender. I felt each was strong and Greek:


    He stopped asking.

  3. We used a family name for my son and I thought it wouldn’t be until grade school that he would get made fun of with his name. Not that his name is Applebee or anything, but kids are cruel and not matter how safe you think the name is if kids want to tease you they will and it usually is with your name. We named him Elliott, but when his younger sister (2 years younger) learned to say his name, she pronounced it Idiot! For some reason I found this extremely funny. Poor kid.

    • As a refromed school yard bully, I can promise that using a name to tease someone was always a last resort, unless the name was particularly horrible (ie. I actually knew a kid named Chester Anis…what the hell were his parents thinking). Personally, I think Elliot is a wonderful name. It’s not too common, but it’s not so unusual that it is weird.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I love the name, that’s why we chose Elliott. Elliott was named after my great grandfather. I just didn’t think his 2-year-old sister was going to be the first one to mess with his name.
        And speaking of different names, my nephew is name Achilles because my sister lost a bet with her husband.

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