How To Name Your Baby

My kids are all home at the same time so I’m taking the opportunity to step out of BeckyLand for awhile and play with them. But while I’m staycationing, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share another of my very funny writer friends with you.

I was going to introduce George, but he does it so much better than I could. I’m stepping away now, and closing the door ever-so-gently to give you some privacy.

Hi, I’m George Waters.

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I’m what they call an “award winning” humor writer. I write a weekly humor column for newspapers, as well as funny freelance essays for other publications and Web sites. I live in Southern California in a flat, baking valley named for San Gabriel who, by all appearances at least, was a saint. I have a wife, a school-age daughter and son, and a rat terrier (rhymes with “rat Perrier”) named Skipper. He is not named Skipper due to any nautical expertise (although he knows his way around a jib), but rather because when he walks at high speed his hind legs actually skip like a happy, recently-promoted middle manager. Some day I will post a video of it here.

I invite you to visit my full-on column-oriented Web site. I built the whole site myself using my mad html skills, some Javascript and an adze. Even if for no other reason, you will want to visit the site because it has a page where you can give me back the hair I had in high school. Do it now, it’s not like you’re getting any work done anyway.

How to name your baby: a curmudgeon’s guide by George Waters

Naming a child is probably the most important thing a parent will ever do for him, unless you count teaching the kid to drive stick. But if you check the parade of baby names people registered last year with Social Security you will see that some parents should not even be allowed this simple task, which also makes you wonder just how safe our roads are.

I would never name a child Chastity, for example, mainly because the kid’s existence kind of undercuts the whole concept there. But if you are going to do it, because you are a fan of irony or something, at least spell it right. Social Security says there is some poor kid out there whose parents named her “Chasity.”

I wish Congress would pass a law requiring all hospitals to hire a spell-checker. This would not only save a lot of kids pain, it would provide rare employment to thousands of otherwise unemployable English grad students.

Next priority: allow only uniform spellings. Allowed (though regrettable) name: Destiny. Disallowed names: Destinee, Destini. Please, parents, let’s not add insult to injuree.

In fact, many psychologists say your name is destiny. A name may potentially cripple a child’s chances for success right off the bat. Show me a CEO or a Supreme Court Justice named Rufus. Show me.

List for me the Senators named Amos, Rayne or Dixie. I am not suggesting everyone march lock-step in the cadence of Emma, Jacob and Madison (or the cadence of Cadence, which somebody named his child last year), but one should use some common sense when setting the tone for a child’s life.

George’s Rule #1: No nouns. No Charity, Patience, Hope, Chance, Essence, Heath, Stone, Blaze, Hunter, Case, Sterling, Meadow; you get the idea. I will allow Borscht. That is my only noun. Borscht. If you’ve got the guts, go for it.

George’s Rule #2: No geography. No Zaire, India, Memphis, Phoenix, Montana, Dakota, London, Ireland, etc. I get it. You conceived the child there. We get it. If I had followed that rule myself, my daughter would be named Ojai now. Let’s all be thankful for Rule #2.

George’s Rule #3: No wacky first/last name combos. If your last name is Cheezetake, do not name your boy Phil E. Seriously, Cheezetake is unfortunate enough on its own. If your last name is Jakissmyhiney, do not name your child Heywood. The judge overseeing the shooting spree trial will not find it as funny as you did.

If you absolutely must name your son Sage, as somebody did last year, please do me a personal favor and name your daughter Tarragon. If you just have to name your kid Darwin, as somebody did last year, please, please, please name his brother Jesus. Then send me a picture of the look on their Sunday school teacher’s face.

If I had no conscience about the grief a kid’s name might cause him, I would love to name my child “Thiscentury.” Think of the possibilities! I could say things like “Hey, are you gonna finish those Brussels sprouts, Thiscentury?” Or “How about you get that homework done sometime, Thiscentury.”

There might be some kind of benefit to forcing your child to toughen up early to abuse like this. That is the only way I can imagine forgiving the parents who, last year, named their little girl Karma. Let us just hope that her last name was not Issabitch.

So, parents out there who are on the cusp of saddling your child with a moniker forever, remember: Journey is the name of a band. Period.

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