Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Mary, now is your time.
From 1880 to 1961, Mary was the number one baby name in the US. It didn't drop out of the top ten until 1972. In 2013, it hit an all time low at number one hundred and forty.
Old fashioned names are making a comeback. Leading girls' names for 2014 include Isabella and Sophia. But after watching Mary Shelley, Mary Wallstonecraft, Mary Astor, Mary Cassatt, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Mary-the-one-they're-all-named-after-anyways parading across history, we're finally getting over it. That's right, Mary is now slumming with names like Genevieve and Angelina. This means that if you want to name your daughter Mary, she doesn't need to call herself Mary Ann or Mary Johnson to set herself apart from her friends. But, unlike most uniquely named people, she won't have to spell it every time she introduces herself.
This last year I had the pleasure of being in a choir class with Xantha, Azurdee, Camrie, and Daryll, all female. There were also two girls named Molini and Losena, but they're Polynesian. The rest of these parents don't have an excuse. I've met girls called Lakyn and Kyndriee. Autocorrect hates them.
Names are important. It makes an impression before people have a chance to see your face. Try not to screw this up.
First, if your child is female, don't give her a name that belongs to boys 99% of the time. Taylor is fine. Tristan? Not so much. She'll constantly be mistaken for a boy on paper. The same goes for you people who think Stacey is a good male name.
Avoid line of sight names. My dad's friend named his daughter Female, pronounced Fee-Molly, because it was already on the birth certificate. A guy in my driver's ed class had the name Kansas. A nod to his parents' beloved home state, perhaps? No. His mom popped him out in the backseat on the way to the hospital. The car ahead of them had a Kansas plate.
If your kid wants a unique name they'll make up their own. My friend Lindsey spells her name Lindzi to stand out. And then there's L'ren, legal name Lauren. She pronounces it weird and I thought she was Lorraine for a month until I finally saw it written down.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is run your name by another person. For example, my middle name is Elizabeth. It was my mother's middle name as well and I want to pass it on. I like the names Esther and Eve, too, so I thought, "Why don't I go with this theme and give all my daughters biblical E names?"
Then one day I was sitting in the aforementioned choir class and realized I might have four daughters. So I pulled out my iPod and searched for another name. The only one I could find was Eunice. So I wrote it down all my names in the margins of my notebook.
My friend Kelly glanced over. "What are you doing?"
"Naming my future children. Gwendolyn Elizabeth, Tatiana Eve, Anastasia Esther, and Valentine Eunice. What do you think?"
Her face looked pained. "Well...if that's what you really want to do..."
I've also had people try and talk me out of Valentine. My mom flat out said that any grandchild named Devonny shouldn't count on birthday visits from her. Sometimes you just have to cave into other people's opinions.
But, in the immortal words of my reasonably named friend, "if that's what you really want to do", then go ahead. Populate the world with Aeriths and Xaidens. Just keep in mind that you can pick a normal name and still feel unique.
Like Mary.

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