Duana Taha reports that she and her new husband are compatible in every way, until they start talking about baby names.
I recently got married, and we’re very happy. Like a lot of just-married couples, we’re thinking about children in the near future, which is great.
Except we forgot one crucial thing. A baby name pre-nup.
Do most couples work out their baby names before they agree to be tied together forever? Was I unaware? Because there are some issues here we definitely should have discussed…!
My name is very unusual – to say the least. It bothered me when I was growing up (as a preschooler, I was known to tell nice people in grocery stores that my name was ‘Megan’), but these days I really appreciate being the only Duana I know. It suits me, I don’t compare myself to the ‘originator’ of the name, or to anyone else we might bump up against in our social circles. (I’m not proud of this, but when by ourselves, we distinguish between two acquaintances as ‘good Nicole’ and ‘bad Nicole’).
My husband, on the other hand – his name, Michael, was number one the year he was born and for many years before and after. It always struck him as kind of neat. Plenty of sports stars and superheroes boasted the same name, there were no shortages of magnets and toothbrushes with his name on it, and he loved sharing names with other kids in the neighborhood – they were their own, very similar club.
Add to this that I am a fascinated name-o-phile while he didn’t realize the ‘aydens’ were a trend, and we anticipate some problems. I know worrying about baby names before we’re even expecting might seem a little premature, but it took us three weeks to name our puppy, and she’s never even going to have a resume! So in an effort to bridge this gap, we’re cobbling together a post-nup name contract. Here are a few of the most contentious points:
His: No ‘pretentious’ names
A deal breaker for him is names that sound lofty or pretentious. So far Henrietta and Alastair have come under fire, while I’ve been carefully not saying ‘Anastasia’ out loud in case it’s similarly dismissed (Update: He read this. “We’re not Russian royalty!”). It seems like most of the ones that get this label from him are long names, and I see the point, but every Gus was once Augustus…right?
Mine: Nothing too normal
I cannot handle names that are nickname-y, cutesy, or sound like they’d be on a list of ‘All-American Good Guys and Gals’. Anything that could reliably have been found in the popular kids’ crowd in a high-school movie is out – they’re so cheery and preppy. Charlie, Kerry, Amy, Toby. Don’t those sound like sunny, well-adjusted kids? What if I want my kid to be able to be grumpy sometimes, like Oscar the Grouch? And since you asked, no, I can’t name him Oscar – it got vetoed.
His: No names in pop culture
I can’t name him Oscar because, of course, of the Grouch in question. Every time I bring up a name with a pop culture connection – say, Veronica – he says “All I think about is Archie comics.” Every fictional character has to be named something, and every name will be used eventually on TV or somewhere, but so far it hasn’t won me any cases. The less popular or iconic the character, the better chance his or her name has, but I think this rule might thoroughly eliminate Felicity. And Theo.
Mine: No repeats. None.
I totally understand the importance of honor names in some cultures and families – it’s just not for me. It’s one thing to share a name with another kid at school by accident, but to willingly replicate someone in the family, especially someone who’s still living? Big Nathaniel and Little Nathaniel? When there are so many unused names out there just looking for a home?
When I suggested we get around this by using the Gaelic format of a name we like – Síne instead of Jane, for example – I got an exasperated eye roll. Which leads us to:
Mine: Let’s make the name Irish…
We each have one parent born in Ireland, and my extended family is still there. For me, that meant trips ‘back home’ and an appreciation of the Róisíns and Ronans who mix in well with the Patricias and Tommys.
His: …but not too Irish. (Seriously, easy on the Irish)
Michael’s extended family are almost all in North America – so he sees the Irish names I favor as a little too exotic and even – yes – a bit pretentious. No Aoibheanns here, not even one little Aoife.
Despite all these rules, we really do have a lot in common and we’re excited to find out what happens when the guy with the #1 name and the girl with the number way, way below that find a way to compromise, name-wise. I know that someday, when little Benignus Jake or Ella Marcheline arrives, we’re all going to be very happy.
Duana Taha is a television screenwriter for programs like Degrassi and Lost Girl, and admits that naming the characters is sometimes the best part. She is a Twitter aficionado and also writes about television, celebrity, and celebrity baby names on www.laineygossip.com