Unbalanced: What not to name your baby boy

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Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

My boss comes from a family of four — mother, father, sister, brother. Here are the first names of his family members: Fayrine, Beverly, Kenton, Kerry.

Kenton is his sister.

I think you see the problem.

The males — that would be Beverly and Kerry, for those needing a scorecard — got caught in the old switcheroo of a unisex name that is now considered female. It did not make them happy. Kerry’s sister, Kenton, has a name that sounds male, but that’s not such a big deal for females. It just looks hip these days.

So would-be parents of America, if it’s a boy in your future, do him a favor.

Don’t give him an androgynous name. Ask any male Leslie, Marion, Carroll or Evelyn how they feel about this. If, that is, you can find one. Many either hide behind initials or use a more male-centric middle name. Or, as in the case of John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, they just dump the name altogether.

Which leads me to: Don’t name him after John Wayne. News of the Weird’s Chuck Shepherd revealed that way too many killers have Wayne as middle name — John Wayne Gacy is the most prominent example. Not that your son would be a serial killer. Just sayin’.

Don’t think you can sneak in an embarrassing middle name, either. Ask Drew Allison Carey. Or Hugh John Mongo Grant. It always comes out.

Don’t name him after your father, grandfather or great uncle. Owen, Chester Marvin or Leroy just don’t cut it anymore.

Don’t name him after a comic book character. Nicolas Cage named his son Kal-El. Nicolas Cage also is in big trouble with the IRS and is known for being a little wacky. I’m sure he loves his son. I’m sure you also will love your son. But don’t be stupid. Your son will thank me.

Don’t spell it wrong. Isaiah is a book of the Bible. Isiah Thomas is a famous basketball player and coach. If your son becomes famous, he’ll have to constantly correct those who try to spell his misspelled name correctly. Which then makes it wrong. This confusing scenario could drive anyone crazy.

Watch out for what his initials might spell. My husband’s middle name starts with an “E.” His first- and last-name initials are “J” and “W.” He has a good name, but a not-so-good choice when he wants to monogram his briefcase.

Don’t name him Richard. Always consider possible nicknames. By the same token, don’t name him anything that could become Bubba.

Don’t name him something you can’t yell out in public when he misbehaves. Which he will. Standing in the yard shouting, “Rocco Spike you get home right now!!” is fine only if you can say it without laughing — and without the neighbors thinking you’re calling the dog.

So after all these don’ts, what should you name your blue-blanketed bundle of joy? I don’t know. However, as Abbott and Costello would say, at least he can play third base.


Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. What’s your favorite disastrous boy’s name?


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