In Praise of Regular Guy Names
When I heard yesterday that former child star (I bet she hates that) Mayim Bialik had named her baby boy Fred (only to discover later in the day that it was actually Frederick) I must admit a warm comfy feeling swept over me. Fred, I thought, what a great name! And not just because it wasn’t yet another day-of-the-week name or a South American capital city name or an invented name starting with X–I’ve learned to adjust to those names over the years to the point where I can honestly say nice things about (some of) them and mean it.
It’s just that there’s something about Fred. And Frank and George and Joe, and even Ralph–something so straightforward and honest and unfashiony and I have nothing to prove about them, it’s like the honking traffic suddenly comes to a halt for a minute on the naming superhighway and time stands still and dads are still smoking pipes and going bowling every Thursday night. It’s probably why so many pressured parents have named their kids Jack and Henry over the past few years–except that by trying to escape the trendy they unintentionally established a couple of trends of their own.
A few celebs have more successfully tried this path as a detour around the cleverness competition by choosing names like George (Kristen Scott Thomas, Eva Herzigova) and Frank (Diana Krall & Elvis Costello), Joe (Kate Winslet), and Ralph (Matthew McFayden)–except that, being British, it might be pronounced Rafe, thereby destroying my whole premise.
Strangely enough, I can’t think of any female names that produce quite the same feeling. Classics like Margaret and Virginia are too buttoned-up, others like Ann and Jean are more cool than warm and fuzzy.
No, it’s definitely a guy thing.
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Emmy Jo Said
on November 13th, 2008 at 3:24 am
I’m glad someone likes Fred. I’m trying to get myself to like it, since Frederick is one of my favorite boys’ names, but I guess I just don’t see the “comfiness” of names like these.
lyndsay jenness Said
on November 13th, 2008 at 9:52 am
I adore Freddy! I don’t so much like Fred alone, or Frederick, but I love the nn Freddy so much! It was our number one pick throughout my whole first trimester, but I guess it got bumped out of the running because we don’t love Frederick… Fred/Freddy sounds fantastic with our last name, too… maybe this will go back into consideration.
on November 13th, 2008 at 3:44 pm
I’ve always loved the name Frank! It has such a warm, friendly, familiar feel. I’ve tried to convince my husband of its coolness and maybe one day I will succeed.
on November 13th, 2008 at 3:52 pm
Yes, Frank is one of those names whose time is coming again. I find myself liking it much more all the time, along with other names I used to actively dislike such as Ray and Vincent.
on November 15th, 2008 at 10:47 pm
Aww, so nice to see this post. The “regular Joes” have been favorites of mine for a long while! Francis/Frank, George/Geordie & Joseph/Joe are all favorites (and now Joseph is unusable because I used the feminine form!).
on November 16th, 2008 at 3:24 pm
Was trying to think of “the Regular Chicks” earlier, have thought of a measley few that give me warm fuzzies when I hear them, like George, Frank, Joe, Art & Hal.
They are: Frances, Nell (Eleanor), Anne, Betty/Bess(Elis/zabeth), Polly (Mary) & Caroline. And that was after two days of stewing about it! Trixie & Alice are almost here by default (The Honeymooners always makes me think “Regular guy/gal” when I watch episodes) But fall just a bit short.
on November 16th, 2008 at 3:32 pm
It’s really hard to come up with a list–of those you mention I’d agree on Nell and Polly–but in the end I think I’ll stick with my conclusion that it’s somehow really a guy thing.
on November 19th, 2008 at 5:31 pm
I named my son Charlie in 2006 … to me, the ultimate friendly-guy name. And I agree that naming style works a little better for boys than girls.
on July 29th, 2009 at 3:10 pm
Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.
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