I had to go to another hospital to look at more mother/infant charts yesterday. The hospital was in the middle of a medium-sized-for-Kansas town, a town I've often admired during my drive-throughs, with its many porch swings and impressive old courthouse. "What's it like down here?" I'd think, cruising past the Main Street storefronts. "Do the young men like to piss on restroom stall toilet seats instead of using the last unoccupied urinal? Do the young women enjoy smoking during their pregnancies? Does the hospital cafeteria's lo mein recipe consist of spaghetti, shredded chicken, and a ton of soy sauce?" After my day of research, I know the answers, and they leave two metaphoric and one literal bad taste in my mouth.
Then there were the baby names. My God, the baby names. I've divided the most notable into the following categories:
NOT TOTALLY HORRIBLE
Okay, fine. Z is a pretty strong letter, and Billy Zane is a pretty strong actor, so things could be worse. Things DO get much worse...
TRYING TOO HARD TO BE UNIQUE
Hmm. You can force anything to become a name, I guess. It could be worse. Much worse...
HOW THE HELL DO YOU PRONOUNCE THIS
I've been thinking about this for two days, and I still haven't ventured a guess. KY-uh? KAY-uh? Fuck it. I don't want to know.
NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH TO BE UNIQUE, AKA MISSPELLED NAMES
Abbigail (F) (x2)
What is the thinking behind this trend? "Yeah, I want my kid to have a unique name, but not unique sounding. I just want one or two letters of the homophone to be different. Or maybe all of the letters. You know, to make it a pain in the ass when he/she grows up and tries to make a hotel reservation by telephone. And what are the odds of two mothers in a medium-sized town settling on a double-B Abigail? At some point, it stops being a coincidence and starts being an indictment of the local school district.
NAME THAT LOOKS MISSPELLED, EVEN WHEN IT'S NOT
TRYING TOO HARD TO BE UNIQUE, NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH TO SPELL CORRECTLY
Let me assure you that none of these were typos. I doublechecked, and these are definitely legit. The first two, well, I think I see what they were going for there, but ultimately it's a failure. Unless they're supposed to be pronounced "ken-LIE" or "nev-add-DUH", it's a problem.
I was going to jump all over the third one, but a quick google reveals "The girl's name Chasity is pronounced CHASS-i-tee. Simplified form of Chastity." I have a problem with simplifying a three-syllable word into another three-syllable word that looks like a typo, but whatever. I guess there's precedent. Really stupid precedent.
The final name -- just, wow. It's assumed John McCain has no influence, because it was a 2007 birth, well before McCain became a frontrunner and before the Maverick exaggerations gained speed. No, this name was bestowed for other reasons. Like, uh, hatred of the letter "e"? And Top Gun? Babynamewizard.com's Name Voyager shows that Jerry Bruckheimer is the probable force behind the traditional, e-featuring version of the name, as it did not exist until idiots/80's movie fans/Tom Cruise fans/terrible parents brought it to life.
I know you're curious, and the answers are No, No, and Yes:
Oh, right, like former NFL and Little House on the Prairie great Merlin Olson. I never really considered that he shared his first name with King Arthur's wizard (and Cougar's navigator). I hope I never consider it again. Maybe Merlin's dominance in depression-era America should serve as a stark reminder (reminders are always stark) that baby names will always be terrible, and the circle shall never be unbroken.