Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stephanie III: Or, Why My Family Sucks at Naming

If you're thinking up names for a child, and you notice one of them is on the Top 50 Baby Names-or, heaven forbid, the top ten, ditch it immediately. Here's why.
My mom had two older sisters, Stephanie and Susan. Both parents divorced and remarried. She got a half sister through her dad named Jenny. Her mom gave her two half sisters, Carolyn and Hailee, and a half brother, Garrett. Then there's her stepbrothers, Troy and Kyle.
Now, despite all the divorces and halfs and steps, you can pretty much keep this family straight. Then they had to go and get married. Kyle, who has absolutely no connection to Jenny, marries a woman named Jenny. Troy marries a Stefani. He knows he has a half sister with the same name and he doesn't care. They weren't really raised together. Then Garrett had to go and find a Hailey. She's nice and all, but I still don't understand how you can meet a woman with the same name as a sister you've known your entire life and feel attracted to her. When I meet guys with my brothers' names, my gut reaction is, "Go away! There can only be one of you in the universe."
Also, Hailey Walker has the same last name as Hailee Walker. You can tell them apart on paper, sure, but they sound the same aloud. Which lead to conversations like this.
Me: "So who's coming to the party?"
Mom: "Stefani Walker's organizing it, but it might be at Hailee-my-sister's house. Hailey-Garrett's-wife is bringing the kids."
Oh, and it doesn't end there. My dad is Steve. Steve Smith. The most ridiculously ordinary name in the Western Hemisphere. Oddly enough, he wasn't the problem here. My grandma, Sharen, thought it would be a good idea to name her daughter Sherry. It took me twelve years to figure out she wasn't named after her. Then she had another son, Michael. Michael married...wait for it...Stephanie. We call her Stephanie Ann to tell her apart from the rest.
And it doesn't stop there. My dad's sister Lisa married Nathan (first name) Taylor (middle name). They had five kids, Melissa, Jessica, Aimee, Taylor, and Michael. This makes family parties fun. Even though Uncle Michael goes by Mike, he still looks up when someone calls for Michael.
At least, that's what I thought their names were. Michael and Taylor were all pallbearers at Jessica's funeral. When I looked down at the program, I discovered my cousins were actually William Michael and Nathan Taylor, Jr.
It doesn't stop there either. Grandma Sharen dies, so Grandpa Scoop (real name Kenneth Wayne but that's another story) marries Cori. Cori has her own daughters, named Amy and...Erica.
Look at the top of this blog. What's my first name?
So let's recap: In my family, I have 3 Stephanies, 2 Jennys, 2 Hailees, 2 Nathan Taylors, 2 Michaels (one really William), 2 Aimees, and 2 Sherrys. This is why I refuse to think of the that other Erica as my aunt, even though Aunt Stefani Walker and Aunt Jenny-wife-of-Kyle aren't blood related to me either. I won't even get started on the almost names. Jenny-my-sister has kids named Jake and Emmy. I have a brother Jacob and a cousin Emma through Stefani Walker. If I think of that boy as Jacob, my head will explode.
I suppose I could have it worse. Marie Antoinette-birth name Maria Antonia-had ten older sisters, all named Maria. Sure, the Maria was mostly for show and they went by their middle name. But that didn't always help. Do you need a Maria Josepha when you already have a brother named Joseph? And a Charles Joseph? And if Maria Elisabeth and Maria Carolina both die as infants, that doesn't mean you need to pop out two new daughters with the same name. Their mother was Maria Theresa. All of her sixteen children-except for the ones who croaked early on-named their firstborn daughters after her. Maybe due to family loyalty. Maybe because they wanted to tick off historians.
People, don't do this. I understand if you fall in love with a woman and you don't care that she has your sisters' name. But don't go naming your child after relatives who aren't dead. 

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