Monday, September 28, 2009

What's in a name?

For several years I have had an unexplainable obsession with people's names. My favorite part about meeting new people is learning their name. Even when looking in my local newspaper I check the "Births" section before the "News" section.

Don't judge me.

I also will admit to being a frequent visitor of People's Celebrity Baby Blog where they post when celebrity's have babies and what they name them.

It really is fascinating, especially in the celebrity world, to see what new names people come up with and why they would choose a particular name to give their child. It is a decision that deserves a lot of thought, I mean, we as humans are attached to our names forever, and that's an awfully long time.

Sometimes it is obvious when a lot of thought is put into someones name, or when their parents were just trying to be pretentious and hip. Now it can get tricky when judging celebrities on their name choices because they will be under the scrutiny of the entire world, not just their in-laws.

For example, millions of people know all of Angelina Jolie's children by name and age and some of my relatives don't even know how to spell my name, if they know it at all.

The other day I read an article online about a website's "Baby Name of the Day." They put the spotlight on Nicole Sullivan, star of Lifetime's Rita Rocks, and her fresh out of the oven baby boy, Beckett.

When I first heard this name, it immediately reminded me of a teenage boy whose father works on Wall Street and sent him to some Prep School in New York City so he and his wife could fly to Paris on the weekends.

But Nicole Sullivan, one of my favorite MADtv personalities, didn't strike me as someone who would choose this name for her child. Then I read further and discover that she has another son named Dashel. Now I have seen and heard a lot of baby names in my time but this was a first for me.

Then I proceeded to be "schooled" by some classmates as they informed me that Dashel was most likely named after Dashiell Hammet, best known for his detective novels, and Nicole was probably just following suit by naming her second son after Samuel Beckett, an Irish writer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1969.

I don't know Nicole Sullivan personally but for the purpose of the following rant, let's say that this is an accurate assumption.

It is tricky business to name your children after well-known people. There always tends to be unspoken expectations. Naming your child Lennon or Elvis will in no way give them inherent musical abilities, but they will forever be associated with these legends.

In fact, little Beckett may grow up to read some of his namesake's works and despise them with a deep fiery passion. Then he will live the rest of his life attached to the name of a writer he hates and will inevitably develop a fear of committment and end up in therapy for the rest of his life.

Poor Beckett.

On the other hand, naming your children after someone famous doesn't have to end in therapy. Sometime it can be a subtle ode to a favorite band member or actor, and your children will be none the wiser. They might even end up appreciating the person they were named after, whether it's Grandma Trudy or Alice Cooper.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a namesake so I strongly urge parent's to do their research and expect the unexpected.

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