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Naming Committee

27 May

“How about this, are you ready?  ‘Larry, Darryl and Darryl’!”

…and variations thereof.  So goes a boilerplate conversation I inevitably have with someone, somewhere nearly every day.

Horace? Mortimer? Floyd?

But, for Carey and I, it’s serious business.  After all the screwball suggestions, at the end of the day, we always have to return to the drawing board and get serious:  these people need to be called something.

You probably picked up from the previous entry that we’re not saying anything about names we’re considering.  To be honest, we’ve really not even said much about names we’re not considering.  Multiple reasons for this, but, to cut to the chase: we’re more or less assuming that people aren’t going to like what we come up with and we’d just as soon not give the h8ers a chance to h8.

Corbin? Cecil? Phillipe?

Everyone thinks, Oh, you’ve gotta do a theme.  Make ’em all rhyme or start with the same letter or spell something sweet when you put ’em together!  Or name them after something crazy, like Donald Duck’s nephews!  But it should be funny!  MAKE SURE IT’S FUNNY.

I’m not sure what it is about triplets, but everyone thinks their names need to be hilarious for some reason.  “Little men, your very existence is absurd and you shall be named accordingly.”

Another comment I hear a lot: “you’re probably so tired of getting suggestions from everyone.”  Not at all.  But there are ways to suggest and ways not to suggest.

Here’s a helpful guide:

“You know what I thought would be great for one of your boys? ‘Smeagol’. I just love the sound of it!”
This is nice because giving us a single suggestion shows you’re thinking of our boys as individuals, which is what we’re trying our best to do. We likely won’t wind up using ‘Smeagol’, but it’s good of you to think of it.

“How about Everett, Pete and Delmar, like from that Coen Brothers movie? You’re a Coen fan, aren’t you?”
Huge Coen fan! Carey and I have decided to stay away from theme-ing our kids in any way, but it’s a very sweet suggestion. You’re thinking of our children as a part of us, influenced by our likes and interests. And who knows? Maybe we’ll end up using Delmar for someone or a middle name, you never know.

“You two are creative, you shouldn’t feel afraid to have kids with creative names.”
Thank you! It’s refreshing to talk to someone who actually has faith in our ability to be unique without being damaging. You’d be surprised how many well-meaning people are hoping to “save” our kids from our arty-fartyness.

“Whatever you do, don’t name them something strange, like Garguax.”
Please don’t do this. Believe it or not, not once but twice we’ve had this said to us and the name given as an example was a name on our list of serious considerations. (And in one of those cases, it was the name of someone we know and respect who we were considering naming one of the boys after, which makes it a doubly shitty thing to hear.)

“I knew a guy named Jojoba and he’s a total douchebag. For my sake, don’t name any of them Jojoba.”
Believe it or not, Carey and I know scores of jerks who have forever ruined perfectly good names for us. Do us a favor and don’t add to the list. In fact, all name suggestions that start with “don’t”? Maybe just keep them to yourself.

“Promise me you’ll–“
Whup, stop right there. If we’re talking names, there’s no possible way for that statement to end well.

“Make sure any name you come up with can’t be twisted into something gross or vulgar by kids at school.”
Fun fact: KIDS CAN TWIST ANY NAME IN EXISTENCE INTO SOMETHING GROSS AND VULGAR. They carry teeny tiny Name Distortion PhDs in their wee wallets.

It’s made us think a lot about our personal style, though.  What sorts of names are us?  It helped to start to figure out the sorts of things we didn’t want and work from there:

Trendy Names
(Aiden, Lucas, Gavin, Dylan, Connor)
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these.  In fact, don’t take my word for it, just ask millions of American kids born in the last several years.  It’s great to have a popular name.  But, for us, if it shows up on a Top 20 Baby Name list anywhere, executive decision, we’re taking a pass.  (True story, when we thought we might have a girl or two in the mix, I fought for “Abigail”, after the Magnetic Fields song.  Carey wasn’t hip and she finally pulled the trump card: an online baby list of popular names in 2011.  Number 8: Abigail.  I conceded defeat.)

Biblical Names
(Noah, Elijah, Caleb, Benjamin, Ethan)
Certain Bible names rise and fall in popularity, but Bible names as an institution will never go out of style.  I’m not sure what it is, but I could never picture myself saddling my offspring with anything out of Scripture (even though, it’s true, my own first and middle names are biblical).  I can’t really give you a good reason, it just appeals to me about as much as giving them a Muslim name or a Buddhist name.

Names That Aren’t Names
(Silvery Blu, Apple, Surprise, Marshmallow Courage)
Probably self-explanatory here, but there’s a part of me that kind of applauds a parent who’s willing to name their kid something on the outrageous side.  I mean, really, what’s so much more masculine and inspiring about an “Aiden” than an “Apple” anyhow?  But, questions of adding to a child’s tribulations aside, it’s just not us to goof out like that.

We don’t like rhyme-y names and we’re skeptical about alliteration.  We’re definitely not doing a theme and there’s no way in hell we’re going to try to get cute or funny.

Schroeder? Vladimir? Spock?

So what’s left?

Well, we do like old names, classic names.  Artists or authors or fictional characters that have inspired us, we’re into that.  Song titles or evolved versions of something nearly forgotten… there’s sort of a romance there.  Historical activists or places we’ve never been, all fair game.  Also, while we’re dreaming, I think we’re into the idea of not picking a name that’s typically tied to a specific ethnicity.

Me, I made a decision early on, which has frustrated Carey a little, but I can’t help it.  It has to mean something to me personally.  There has to be a certain serendipity to a name, a connection to something that’s meant a great deal to me at one point or another.  It’s not enough for it to just sound good.  I need to anchor myself to it.

I know, I know.  Yeesh.

Carey, admittedly, is content with something that has a nice ring to it.  But don’t be fooled, she’s not so easy to please either.  We’ve got three firsts and three middles to come up with and it’s been a struggle.  We’ve honed in on a few candidates that we’re very fond of, but we’re letting it marinate a little.

But we also laid down the rule early on: either one of us has 100% veto power over any suggestion.  Translation: if we’re not both completely in love with it, it’s out.

All that’s to say, maniacal standards aside, we genuinely are happy to hear suggestions.  We’ve got a lot of people to name, after all, and absolutely nothing’s set in stone as far as we’re concerned.  And you can see why.

So, lay ’em on us, people.  We don’t have all summer, here.

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Diction

25 May

CAREY:  _____’s a good name for one of the boys.  I like it, but I don’t know.  It might be hard for him to pronounce when he starts talking.

ME:  You think?

CAREY:  Well, what if he has a speech impediment or a problem with his Rs?

ME:  Mm.  I suppose that’s something to consider.

CAREY:  I had a really hard time with my name growing up.  It was embarrassing!

ME:  “Cawey May Moyew.”

CAREY:  It’s very common!  Of course, you never had to worry about anything like that because, ohh, little Jeremy Bear pronounced everything perfectly!  You even beat up your poor little sisters for saying anything wrong.

ME:  It’s true.  I’m not sure what to tell you, I was blessed with perfect diction.  I just assumed it was how the world worked.  To mispronounce was an insult to the gift of language!

CAREY:  Ugh god.

ME:  I’d look around, thinking, “you freaks know how to speak!  You’re being lazy!  Show a little respect and maturity, would you?”

CAREY:  Well, there is some truth to that…

ME:  What do you mean?

CAREY:  All right, I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but I… hh.  I sort of, I don’t know.  Listen, I’m not proud of this.

ME:  What are you talking about?

CAREY:  There was a girl, I think her name was Tiffany.  This was first grade.  She was just so cool!  Really cute, you know, all the boys liked her.  And she knew it, too.  She had the perfect little clothes, everything.  She wore this puffy white coat all the time.

ME:  Like Savannah Smiles, before she gets kidnapped?

CAREY:  Uh.  Sure.

ME:  Well, technically, she wasn’t kidnapped.  She ran away and was hiding out in the back seat of these felons’ car.  But her parents put out this reward for her and… y’know, the story gets pretty sophisticated.  But, yeah, puffy white coat, I get the picture.

CAREY:  Anyhow, this girl, Tiffany, had a speech impediment.  She had trouble with her Rs.  And for some reason, it just made her even cuter!  She could do no wrong!

ME:  Man, c’mon, don’t tell me…

CAREY:  Well, they put me in speech therapy and it cleared up the problem, but sometimes I’d, you know, for convenience, I’d pick my moments.

ME:  You dropped your Rs for status, you little climber.

CAREY:  It was a real low period, I admit it.

ME:  Cawey May Moyew, gaming the system!

CAREY:  If you’d seen this Tiffany and her outfits, you’d have understood.

ME: I wonder what she’s doing now.

CAREY:  Probably something glamorous.

ME:  Either that or hooking.

CAREY:  That’s possible.  She was always fancy.

POTI (or The “It” Factor)

1 Mar

My wife and I decided the day she discovered her pregnancy: we don’t dig “it”.

It’s a whatdyacallit. A conundrum. This is your very own special stork delivery. Your precious little bundle from Jesus. The fruits of your love and the keeper of your legacy. Someday, this blessed little embryo will have both a name and a gender, but for the moment you don’t know what to call “it”. So you say “it”, even though you feel guilty about calling it “it”, because what else are you supposed to say?

You could do what a lot of people do and assign the kid a gender before you know for sure, just for convenience’s sake. (And 9 times out of 10, people seem to use “he”.) But, be honest, you feel guilty about that too. After all, if “he”s a girl or “she”s a boy, it almost feels like a subtle piece of pre-natal psychological warfare. What, are you calling your little lady butch? Are you trying to say your little guy is a weepy little princess?  Consider your parenting permits revoked, losers.  You’re in violation.

So you go back to “it”, but you can’t help but feel like you’re describing a gerbil or a napalm casualty.

So we decided on a different approach.  Stolen wholesale from an episode of This American Life, we started referring to our first-trimester cluster as POTUS.  If you, like us, have The West Wing: The Complete Series DVD boxed set at home (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll already know that POTUS is an acronym for President Of The United States.  We may not have a name or a gender just yet, but we’re already dreaming big.

It quickly caught on in our everyday lingo and it became an easy way around “it”.  Plus, it has the added bonus of sounding legitimate when, say, you’re on the phone with your spouse around work associates and you’re trying to talk in code, since you haven’t quite blown your pregnancy news out into the ether just yet (“How’s POTUS?” “Did you tell Jennifer about POTUS?” “Can you come to POTUS’s appointment on Friday or do you still have that meeting?”).

Okay, so we’re slightly less tricky than we think we are.

One good thing about finding out you’re having multiples, though, is the “it” issue disappears. It’s “they”.  Always “they”.  And listen: when it comes to triplets, you don’t get a lot of One-Less-Thing-To-Worry-About moments, so take ’em and treasure ’em.

For some reason, though, it seemed a shame to give up on “POTUS”, so now our little ones are collectively referred to as The POTI.  It’s unlikely they’ll all three be United States Presidents, but we’re living in hope that at least two of them get there.  The other will have to content himself with a governorship or maybe status as Poet Laureate.

Or herself.  Content “herself”.

Or “itself”.

Or aargh.