Posted by: dodgrblu | July 11, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name May Be A Rutabaga

Until now, I’ve identified my darling daughters only as “Little Vamp” and “Baby Vamp.” But now that Facebook has rendered any hope of privacy obsolete, I might as well introduce them, and tell you how they got their names.

I had two primary criteria for a baby name:

1. It could not be in the Top 100 names for the United States or Washington state for the most recent reporting year. No girls named Emma, Emily, or Olivia; and no boys named Jacob, Michael, or Ethan in our household!

2. NO STRIPPER NAMES—no Candy, no Sugar, no Misty, etc. Especially for boys.

Actually, we had a boy’s name picked out long before a baby was ever on the way. We decided on it one day as we were driving down I-5. (With the traffic in Seattle, you end up with more time than you need to discuss relevant stuff, so you start discussing irrelevant stuff like what to name a baby you don’t have.) Scott shares the same middle name with this father—Anton. So we decided, if we were to have a boy, we’d name him Trey Anton, since he’d be the third male child in the family with that middle name.

Years later, along came a girl.

This is Shea. Her real name is Shealynn, but we almost always call her Shea (i.e., unless she’s in trouble). Her name came to us pretty easily. Scott wanted an Irish name in honor of his grandmother (Jane). And he was able to sell me on “Shea” very easily because of Shea Stadium, where the New York Mets played through 2008. (In case you’re interested, Shea Stadium was named for William Shea, who is credited with bringing National League baseball back to New York City in the 1960s after the Dodgers and Giants left for California.) “Shealynn” was perfect: an Irish name for Scott, a baseball name for me. Everyone was happy.

Shea Stadium is gone now, but our Shea lives on. I’ve collected a few pieces of Shea Stadium memorabilia for her. Also, in the Mets new ballpark, Citi Field, there is a placard on the outfield wall, next to the retired numbers, that reads “SHEA.” We hope to have the opportunity someday to get her picture next to that. Not sure how we’ll manage to get onto the outfield at Citi Field to snap the picture, but if the opportunity comes up, we’re there. (Otherwise, maybe we can just make her lie down in the parking lot next to the brass markers that memorialize where the bases were in Shea Stadium.)

We should have known before she was born that Scarlett would be the more difficult kid, because she was far, far more difficult to name. Since Scott got to pick Shea’s name, I figured I should get to name the second one. My first choice, Anastacia (Stacey), died on the vine because it’s consistently mispronounced “Anna-stasia” (like the continent of Asia). So, I moved on to my second choice, “Aurora,” with a nickname of “Rory.”

Ah, Aurora. It’s a lovely name, isn’t it? Brings to mind images of the Aurora Borealis or Princess Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty fame).  Unfortunately, in Seattle, it may also bring to mind Aurora Avenue. And Aurora Avenue in Seattle is infamous for drug busts, hookers, and cheap motels. About 50 percent of people to whom we mentioned the name were horrified.

Scott tried but couldn’t get over the association with Aurora Avenue. So there went my second choice.

If I couldn’t have Aurora, I wanted a baseball name. Turns out it’s hard to find baseball-related names for girls. We discussed Camden—with a nickname of Cami. But in the end we rejected Camden as too boyish.

Fenway? Dog name. In fact, we know someone with a dog named Fenway.

Wrigley? Another great name: for a PET.

Landshark? Oh, now, COME ON. (I actually didn’t know the stadium in Florida had been renamed Landshark Stadium until somebody suggested that as a name.)

Taking a page out of George Costanza’s book, we joked about naming her “Eleven” for Edgar Martinez. Edgarina was also mentioned. We were never really serious about those two.

Scott thought he had found the Holy Grail when he came up with… “Brooklyn.” As in, the original home of the Dodgers. He almost had me, too. Except that Brooklyn happened to be #37 on the list of popular baby names. AND there was a little girl at Baby Storytime at the library named Brooklyn, so I knew there was already one around here. (I was willing to overlook the fact that it sounds like one of those obnoxious celebrity baby names.)

In spite of this obvious violation of my #1 criterion, Scott campaigned hard for Brooklyn. He did everything but prepare a PowerPoint presentation. He DID in fact prepare a PDF making his case for choosing “Brooklyn.”  I was closer than he knew to conceding. But the final nail in the coffin for “Brooklyn” was Scott’s grandmother’s reaction, which went something like, “Why would you want to name a beautiful baby after a dirty little blue collar town like that?” Ouch!

By the end of summer, not having a name picked out was driving Scott insane. And he was driving ME insane with his obsession with names. Scott should definitely hold the Guinness World Record for the Amount of Time Spent by a Father Searching for Baby Names. (Alas, that isn’t one of the Guinness categories. I checked.) He spent way, WAY more time searching baby name Web sites  than I did. Just about every day, he’d present me a list of 5-10 name suggestions, which I’d summarily reject. The various lists included:

  • Arianna
  • Ariel (hey, if we can’t pick Aurora, no other Disney princesses need apply!)
  • Autumn (didn’t sound good with our last name)
  • Cristina/Christine and several variants thereof
  • Dylan (doesn’t sound good with our last name)
  • Erin
  • Kaitlyn
  • Kaley
  • Keira
  • Kiley
  • Taryn (pronunciation was a problem; even we couldn’t agree how it would be pronounced)
  • Zoe

Since the baby was going to be born close to Christmas, we tried Christmas names. I rejected “Noelle” (as a first name) due to my fear that people would constantly sing “The First Noel” upon meeting her. (This is directly related to my extreme aversion to the Beatles’ song, “Michelle.”) Scott rejected “Natalia” when he Googled it and discovered it to be altogether too common among Eastern European prostitutes. (At least that’s why he said he was looking at Eastern European prostitutes. Hmmm…)

Knowing that we were never going to have a boy to use it, we even tried converting “Trey” to a girl’s name—“Trea.”  But with the incredible number of people who can’t pronounce “Shea” properly, having a sister with a name spelled nearly the same but pronounced completely differently seemed almost cruel. (It is a good example of why English is a tough language to learn, though.)

This is Scarlett, aka Droolia.

Then, there was “Scarlett.” The first time Scott heard it his reaction was, and I quote: “What a silly name!” He associated it with Scarlett O’Hara, and therefore with the South. But after his grandmother’s utter rejection of “Brooklyn,” our options were dwindling, so he took another look. Research revealed that Scarlett has never been a popular name in the South. Go figure. It is quite popular (in the top 50) in Great Britain and Australia, and is rising in popularity in the U.S. (I assume due to Scarlett Johansson). But it has not yet cracked the Top 100 in the U.S.

Long about October, Scott decided he could live with “Scarlett.” His family was also on board with it, so it was pretty much decided.

And that’s how we named the girls. I will not be popping out any more children, so thank goodness we don’t have to do THAT again.

And just when you thought this ever-long post was finally done, there is an epilogue. Scott and I agree that, to this day, Scarlett does NOT look like a “Scarlett.” Shea’s name is a good fit, but Scarlett’s is not. (She also doesn’t look like a “Brooklyn” either, though, so we dodged that bullet.) So we have a little bit of “The Namers’ Remorse.”

And better names have cropped up since Scarlett was born. Joking that we should have named her “Droolia” because she drools so much, I said we could call her “Drew” for short. DING! “Drew” would have been a great name. And she looks like a Drew.

Then last week, Scott suggested we could have called her “Drea” (pronounced “Drey-ya”). Damn! That’s a great one. But it’s got the same problem as “Trea” vis-à-vis the difference in pronunciation between “Shea” and “Drea.”

Oh well, what’s done is done. Scarlett will decide what she wants to be called when she gets older (probably Emma or Olivia). But you have to admit, you can’t beat “Scar” as a tough-girl nickname.

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