You Named Me…What?
If name is destiny (Destynee?), then judging from the dumb-ass, intentionally misspelled, needlessly apostrophe'd names we Americans are giving our kids nowadays—Jaxxon, Branlee, Scot't—we're raising a generation of meth heads. What can be done to stop this? Presenting GQ's rules for naming a baby in the worst baby-naming era in human history
Congratulations, your wife/girlfriend/au pair is pregnant! A little bundle of colicky delight awaits you mere months from now. And one of the great joys of this period of anticipation is brainstorming all kinds of kick-ass names for your offspring.
But be warned: The power that comes with naming a child can be both intimidating and addictive, and we are currently in the throes of a child-naming crisis here in America. Seemingly rational people are naming their kids Baylynn, and Daxx, and Nirvana. Ethans are becoming Aythans. Marys are becoming Jazzmins. Wannabe elitist parents keep trying to one-up each other, as if a uniquely horrible name serves as some kind of guarantee against little Aston Martin growing up to be merely ordinary. Soon we'll be staring down an army of Apples, and the entire country will collapse upon itself. Each of us will get only a few opportunities (or if you're Antonio Cromartie, two dozen) to help in the fight against this encroaching apocalypse, so when your turn comes, please do your part by following a few simple rules.
- Do not invent a name. Most inventions fail. Many don't even make it past the patent stage. What makes you think a name you created out of thin air is gonna stand the test of time? There's a reason why "Jane" and "David" have hung around for so long. They're proven. They've been workshopped out in the field. That's not true of Kaydiss. You didn't even run it past a focus group. You're putting the responsibility for an entire new product launch on that poor baby's shoulders. That's a dick move. This also goes for any classic name that you deliberately mutilated. No one's gonna be dazzled that you took Christopher and turned it into Krystougher.
- Think real hard about whether or not a "cool" name is all that cool. Listen, I've been vulnerable to this, too—I had Duke and Rock on the list for my first son, because I'm an idiot. But I wised up, because you don't pick a name for the initial novelty of it. The name you choose needs to hold up for a long, long time. You may think naming your kid Ace will automatically make everyone think he's a fighter pilot, but the culture changes. It evolves. Names that sound kinda badass now become stale and tepid with the passage of time. If you're going to name your kid Ace, you might as well name him 1987.
- If you give your kid a kooky name, there'd better be a story behind it. "You see, we named her Veniss because she was conceived in a pensione outside Venice. But Tyler's grandmother just died and her name was Missy and we wanted to honor her memory. And then I thought…Veniss! Plus the name has Macedonian roots, and I'm Macedonian!"
- Don't abuse the letter y. It's not a real vowel. It's only a vowel when all the other vowels have been injured and you need to use the emergency third-string vowel. It's not some kind of all-purpose MEGAVOWEL that can be readily substituted for the real ones just because you think it looks cooler. Little Prysylla shouldn't have to grow up thinking her name was inspired by some kind of Croatian village. And another thing…
- Go easy on the "extreme" letters. I like x, k, and z as much as any competitive Scrabble player does. But these are children you're naming, not line extensions of Mountain Dew. The only reason to name your kid Jaxxon is if you really want him to grow up to be a Duke lacrosse player.
- Do not use double letters if you don't have to. Branlee. That's a real name. People have used it, just as they've used Kylee, Sandee, and thousands of other homemade names that deploy double e's and double n's wherever possible because…well, beecausee! It just looks betterr, doesn't it?! We're on the verge of triple letters. In two years, a Trissstyn will show up at your country day school and everyone's head will explode.
- Do not name your child after the following things:
- A television network
- An item in the Pottery Barn catalog
- Some goddamn character in Twilight
- A car
- A type of New Age exercise method
- Any celebrity baby. We already have one Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette. We don't need a second one.
- Consider whether that apostrophe is really necessary. It isn't.
- Think about the kid and not yourself. Are you giving this kid a one-of-a-kind name because you're fishing for cheap compliments? Do you want friends and family to be dazzled by your creativity? That's probably what's going on here, even if you can't admit it. A name shouldn't make a person. A person should make a name for himself. He has to go and earn it by fighting bears and seducing the wives of dictators. On his own. Without your help. So before you fill out that birth-certificate application, think hard about the person who's gonna be carrying around this name for life. Put yourself in the kid's shoes, and maybe, just maybe, you'll have the balls not to name her Brixie.
drew magary is a gq correspondent and a columnist for Deadspin. His third book, Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood, is out now.