So—I hate to ask a seemingly indelicate question. But—What’s up with baby names these days?
Sure, we’ve had celebrities assign their children some strange names in recent years. Heck, just this week Robert Downey Jr. and his wife named their son Exton Elias. But I’m not as concerned about kids named Moxie Crimefighter or Pilot Inspektor as I am in knowing why the first names of most newly born kids in the US are ones that merely decades ago would have been nothing other than good, old-fashioned last names?
Why are we so obsessed with family names, we’ve nearly abandoned the sacred tradition—centuries, rather millennia in the making—of assigning “Christian names” to our newly hatched Madison’s and Mackenzie’s?
I know the American “family” is in decline. I know many now say America a “post-Christian” nation—(which is itself a misnomer, I might add). Does this underlie the confusion?
Seriously! What’s up?
Why is every Tom, Dick, and Harry now named Taylor, Devon, or Yale?
And what about these names with oblique, more often than not overt, allusions to the aristocrats of academia?
My own nephew, born last year, is named “Rhodes”—God bless his little, “high-IQ-ed” heart. I know his grandfather is a professor, and his aunt, yours truly, spent WAY too many years not making NEARLY enough money in academia—(thus, the high dollar move to blogging)—but that’s a lot of pressure on a little guy! How’s that for a “you-better-make-the-grade-or-else” kick-in-the-ass?
Now, I know I should keep my family out of this. I know my brother could and probably should kill me. (But he has a really great sense of humor; his name is “Tyce,” by the way, if that tells you anything about the DNA of naming in my family.)
I know, as well as you do, that a rose by any other name should smell as sweet, but what about poor “Baby Rose?”
Why has she morphed into little “Reagan?” Yes, I kid you not; she’s one of the most popular girls’ names in the US. I love the old Gipper as much as the next left-leaning, non-Bible-toting, “doesn’t-give-a-hoot-about-Hollywood,” Democrat in America.
Enough is enough!
My mother called me “Kathryn” for a reason. I was named after my grandmother, her first name, I might add. And there were a total of three “Kathy’s” in my kindergarten class—I was born in an era, now sadly past, when “normal” naming still happened in America—was right up there with good breeding!
Speaking of breeding—does it say anything about all that’s vogue in naming that my dogs are “Ralph” and “Lucy?”
I read somewhere that the name “Max” was expected to increase in popularity for little boys in the coming years, but isn’t that right up there with “Spot” as a common name for dogs in the US?
Are the sons (and daughters) of America now being named after their canine companions?
Or am I barking up the wrong tree?
(Though updated, this post is based on one I did in December 2010.)
Note: If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I am writing a memoir and blogging about growing up in an organized crime family. (This post is not part of that series.) To read one of my mafia-related memoir posts,”Kids Make the Best Bookies,” click here. If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.