Friday, March 19, 2010

What we almost named our baby

Naming babies was really easy until I had a real baby to name.

I am a baby name critic from way back. Kathy likes to help me hone my skills by reading me birth announcements from hospital websites. I rate the name on a scale of 1 to 10 and then give detailed critique full of the type of adjectives one would expect to encounter in a wine-tasting.

Blake Oliver: Smooth flow; should age well. Oliver has that distinctive Old World flavor so reminiscent of London street vendors. Blake gives a modern tang, but without that overbearing tartness of the more trendy Drake.

Ariana Elle: The first whiff smacks of a Disney princess, and the aftertaste leaves one craving obstruents.

This makes for a fine hobby until one has to name a real baby, a living being who will have to wear this name for the next 80 years. It will have to wear well through all kinds of terrain: cruel kids on the playground, the teenage quest for conformity, the young adult quest for individuality, the job market, the marriage market...what name could possibly fulfill all that we require of it?

And just when you think you've hit the jackpot, there's always that attack from unexpected corners. I had several beautiful names picked out, but when I thought to check the initials, I kept running into words: RAM, HAM, ARM (not that that has to be a deal-breaker; Mac, my college roommate, carried off her unmarried ARM initials beautifully, as well as her married initials - ARF).

At one point, we really thought we had a winner: Tessa. Cute but not too cutesy, recognizable but not too popular, feminine but not frilly. I tried to think of everything, including how it would work in Tanzania. I knew it would be easy for Swahili speakers to pronounce, because it fits right into Bantu phonology. Then one day I had a funny feeling - it fit TOO well into Bantu phonology. So well that it might already be a I looked it up:

Tesa: to torture, torment, hound, harass, or persecute

Thwarted again! And what a close call - I came a hair's breadth away from getting myself into quite a cross-cultural pickle. "Nice to meet you, Pastor. This is my husband, Tim, and our daughter, Persecution."

So, back to the drawing board. We've been searching the cybersources for new inspiration, dusting off some old favorites, and shuffling around our top choices looking for that magical combination. Sorry to disappoint anyone wanting a sneak preview, but all name deliberations are top secret until Babymac70 makes her grand debut. This is our firm policy for three reasons:

1. People are more friendly to names when they are already attached to adorable babies. "You named him Artaxerxes??? Let me see a picture....well, isn't he the sweetest thing! I always liked Artie as a nickname."

2. We reserve the right to change our minds up until the last possible moment. Can't have everyone get used to calling her Delphinium and then have her pop out looking much more like a Myrtle.

3. We need time to screen all of our options with a Swahili-English dictionary.

Let's hear your votes! What name would you suggest for Babymac70?


  1. Timothy Robert MacSaveny The Girl


  2. In need of procrastination i looked at and found Makenna which means happiness in bantu unless you spell it Makena then it means the happy one. Spelling it with one n makes it much less popular if that matters to you. Rate it and see what you think. I suggest giving her your middle name. I didn't pass on our family tradition with my oldest daughter and felt horrible about it later on. I was able to pass it on to my youngest so it made up for it, just a little personal experience. Good luck choosing the perfect name!