When my wife was pregnant with our first child, we toiled through every online baby-name generator available to find the perfect moniker. My wife also purchased every baby-name book, mainly because she isn’t familiar with the concept of a library…and because of the human inability to resist purchasing anything marketed to first-time parents.
Selecting your baby’s name can be an awe-inspiring experience, but it has a dark side. There are some terrible, hideous names out there. They’re waiting to snare parents like a Vietcong tiger trap, but instead of being impaled in a pit, you’ll be reminded daily of what an idiot you were when you thought you’d defy convention and name your kid Lyric, Gulliver, Aruba, Rockett, Gypsy, Walden, Blooper, or Zeus.
We all know people who have crossed the appropriate-name line, and when you call them on it, D’Artagnan’s parents will tell you the same thing Blaze’s parents told you. It’s the bad baby-name credo: “I want my child to have a unique name so he can have his own identity.”
This is the bad baby-namer’s folly. Unique names have their place: horse racing and the adult-film industry. Names like Seabiscuit or Captain Dangler might work somewhere, but they won’t fly at Pleasant Hill Elementary School.
The celebrity problem
It seems celebrities are a main source of the bad baby-name problem. Easily influenced people often look to celebrities for answers to life’s toughest questions, such as which religion to practice, where to shop, and for whom to vote.
But with celebrities creating baby names like Apple, Zolten, Pilot Inspektor, and Moxie CrimeFighter, it might be time to look elsewhere for inspiration. As a general rule: Resist all temptation to name your baby after a color, superhero, fruit, geographic location, or an American Gladiator. And under no circumstances look to People, Us Weekly, or Variety for ideas.
Celebrities aren’t the only source of absurdity when it comes to baby names. If there is one thing that’s more dangerous than Hollywood, it’s the Internet. On more than one occasion, parents have turned to eBay to auction off their child’s naming rights to the highest bidder.
Sponsorships are great for sports stadiums and golf tournaments, but it’s going to be tough to explain to 5-year-old Microsoft Smith or GoldenPalace.com why the other kids at school make fun of him.
It all comes down to this…
Naming your baby is hard work. It’s supposed to be. Fortunately, there is a foolproof test to help determine if the name you’ve picked for your unborn child is suitable: If no other person on the planet has the same name, keep looking.
– Trace Conger is an essayist and short-story writer. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Beth, and their daughter, Bobsled-Pepsi Conger.