Category: wacky baby names
The just-released Social Security list includes over 1400 brand-new names, given for the very first time to five or more babies in the US.
As you might imagine, most of these names are pretty far out on the ledge. There are lots of kree8tiv spellings of more conventional names: Finlea and Massyn, Londonn and Karsan. There are names from around the world freshly introduced to America: Junhao and Mokshith and Motoki. There are original combo names — Charlotterose and Marcusjames — and there are new word names and place-names and surname-names — Revelation and Tokyo and Thoreau — and there are even a couple of wonderful old names revived for the modern world: Hypatia and Thisbe, Romilly and Calisto.
But all these newborn names look downright sedate compared to a handful of choices it’s hard to believe were given to even one baby, much less five….or ten….or 63.
Nothing makes my family giggle more than a funny name. We collect and pass them around like prized truffles. My sister and I have practically memorized John Train’s Most Remarkable Names, and right up until my uncle died two years ago, he and my mom would mail each other the choicest newspaper clippings. My dad is content to just make them up, baiting unsuspecting wait staff by tryingto order non-existent cocktails named after his creations. “I’d like an Irving Gafoofnick, please. You know, it’s like a Harvey Wallbanger, only different.”
We retain a healthy appreciation of the difference between first and last name humor, understanding that no matter how silly a last name may sound, it’s asking a lot to turn one’s back on one’s heritage and change it. But even though those names engender a pained “There but for the grace of Ellis Island go I” sympathy, the comic element can prove hard to resist. Consider a recent wedding announcement, in which the groom’s last name was Alternative. Our compassion didn’t stop us from quipping, “The bride, whose first choice was unavailable…”
But we are less inclined to be charitable when there is clearly an element of free will. It’s hard not to smack one’s head in wonder at misguided hyphenates (Scubbley-Butts), ethnic mash-ups (Hadassah O’Donohue), inadvertent descriptors (Rosie Rottencrotch), and encoded sentences (Dorothy Ada Mellon – and boy, was she hungry).