Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What's in a name? Or, the Pottery Barn catalog cracks me up.

OK, just so you know, I was named after my great-great-great-great-great maternal grandmother.

My husband, who is half Jewish/half WASP, was named after an ancestor with an Old Testament name in a failed attempt to please both sides of his family.

Our son is named after both of his grandfathers.

Our daughter is named after my husband's grandmother, her mother, her mother, and her mother.

As you can see, in this household, we don't get creative when picking out names for their offspring. This is because our family names provide us with a rich enough supply of compost for recycling.

Because of this, we don't need to pick names from Jane Austen adaptations,* soap operas** or street signs.*** We don't decide, "oh, 'John' is so boring--let's name him Hans/Ian/Ivan/Jean/Juan/Sean instead."

We also agree that your name is supposed to reflect your ethnic group. Otherwise, you can easily fall victim to what I call "Lender's Frozen Pizza Bagel" syndrome. Yes, America is a big melting pot, but do you really think an innocent child should have to walk around being called Midori Himmelfarb or Mary-Bridget Lombardo? I mean, come on. Juan Epstein on Welcome Back Kotter was a joke.

Please. I'm begging you. Do not turn your child into a pizza bagel. Simple rule of thumb: if you don't drink Irish beer while eating crepes stuffed with edamame and seaweed salad, then don't name your child Yvette Kazuko O'Malley.

Anyway, in an attempt to make canvas chairs and beach towels look desirably upscale, the following names are currently appearing in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. These names have now received the Poppy Buxom Trendy Name Kiss Of Death Award. Choose these names for your children at your own risk:

Abby Aiden Alexis Andrew Anna Brandon Brian Caitlin Cameron Chris Chloe Conor Cooper Ethan (my nephew) Evan Henry (my brother, and I don't know how happy he'll be when everyone assumes he's a nine-year-old) Hope Kate Jack Jason Justin Katie Lacey (Underalls) Lindsay (Lohan will drive this one's stock down) Max Meghan Molly Nate Oscar (fine if you want your son to grow up to become a gay playwright or a Muppet) Owen Rachel Sam Sophie Stuart Zoe

* Lydia, Emma, Charlotte, Mr. Darcy
** Adam, Alexis, Colby, Blake, Paige, Jason, Logan, Luke, Samantha
*** Darryl Hannah in Splash spawned a million Madisons.


  1. Funny.

    We named our kid based on whether or not it would sound good coming from the stadium's public address system: "Batting fourth, Our Kidsname!"

    Joke's on us now that he's rejected the family religion (baseball). It is a regular name. None-a that trendy stuff for us.

  2. BrownBear is from catagory #1 (no, not Mr. Darcy) and lucky for us, it is an old family name. We are related to Jane Austen. (bwahahhahha) We also made sure it sounded good being paged over a hospital intercom: "Dr. Brownbear Mr. Darcy" or "I could do business with BrownBear Mr. Darcy." Again, my freakiness shining through.

  3. Oops. I have a Jack, a Connor Evan and the dog's name is Molly.

  4. Mrs. Ahead of the Curve here. I chose the 94th most popular name for my son. Alas, that name is now #4 and on the dreaded Pottery Barn List. It's also your nephew's name.

    I'm not even going to mention that I chose my daughter's name when I was 9 and lo and behold, it became the #1 girls' name of whole freaking 1990's decade.

    Also, my name was odd when I was a kid And my sister Hannah? BIZARRE name. Our names became frighteningly cool decades later.

    Snork at the Oscar line!

    Just a note, Lacey will always sound like a stripper's name. Or Hugh Hefner's girlfriend. Oh, wait. No difference there.

  5. One should also check the initials over carefully. A life lesson I learned from a girlhood chum named, unfortunately, Annette Suzanne Sanford.

  6. None of my kids' names are on there. Who would think of our three kids, Kathryn would be the least common name among her peers, when we thought the other 2 were more unusual. We do have AOK in the initials. And we made certain not to give K a middle name that started with a K.

  7. Missed 'em all!

    OF course, I have the number one name for most of the eighties and nineties - since I was born in the early seventies, this meant a lot of answering 'What!?!' to strange women calling for their running-to-be-free three year olds in the grocery store.

    And I like Evan Henry. The name, altho' I'm sure your brother is nice too....

  8. Oh, his name isn't Evan Henry. It's just Henry.

    Or as blackbird puts it, "HENRY!"

  9. You forgot Devon.

    And well, I've got a couple of muppets, a reference to a 50s movie and 60s sitcom, a kid one consonant away from being a friendly ghost and one feline cartoon.

    Yep, my kids SCORED.

  10. Poppy, Poppy, Poppy. SO many names that perhaps SOME of us have named out children and now are on you list of risky don'ts. Now what do we do.

    Mine both carry family names as middle names that horrify people, sound like law firms and make fitting in small spaces difficult. And how do you handle the ethnic thing when you your half spring are half pure Italian and half Scottish??? I am the Italian half but look forward to them marrying in kilts.

    Because there is NOTHING sexier then a good looking guy in a kilt. Screw tuxedos.

  11. Amen! Amen! Amen! (loud cheering)

  12. My name is Justine, was named after my great grandmother. This year I have shoes, a shirt and a coat in my name????? Thanks to Kate Spade, J crew, etc..

  13. Don't turn you child into a pizza bagel...


    Jake is named for our fathers, Jack for our brothers and EvaJun for my mom with her Chinese name added... we're not all that creative either.

  14. Poppy, I read your blog reglarly. Didn't expect this from you at all. We should name our children based on our ethnicity? Probably where you live, you don't see may inter-ethnic(for lack of a better word) marriages. Come to silicon valley. It is pretty common here. No one thinks of their children as a "pizza bagel".

  15. Well, it's all a matter of taste, and it is my blog, so it's my taste.

    So please don't tell me that "Poppy" sound stupid with "Buxom," or I'll get very upset over the amount of money I've wasted on customized stationery.

  16. Hey - my comment got eaten.
    Were K and I to have a 4th, we are consulting the Ikea catalogue.
    I've always wanted a Smedvik.

  17. 1- NOS is actually Joke IV. He is not just proud of the "IV" (as in Roman numeral, not intravenous) but actually quite smug about it.

    2- I knew, very early on in our acquaintance -- 10 years tomorrow! -- that anyone who in this day and age had named her children "regular" names was someone fit to side next to me, making cruel sport of the rest of a benighted humanity.

    3- NTS (not being Roman numeraled) has a very regular name that is spelled the same in (being rather common in both) English and Spanish.

    4- TFBIM has had to endure a lifetime of "How do you spell that?" and "How's that pronounced?" and has been fairly scarred by the whole thing, even if it is a family name.

    5- I forgot what #5 was.


  18. We didn't make the list! Not with any of my four. We named one a pretty common, if not super common, name. One after her great grandmother, which WAS common, but not anymore, and two with sorta obscure, but not totally, names.

    Although I do worry that we've scarred them by having too many relatives to "love" and giving them all two middle names.

    But it does lend extra fire to yelling when they're really in trouble.


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.