Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's in a Name? - Part 2

We are in position on the sofas. I have a copy of 7000 Baby Names with Adolf, Gaylord and Iaian already crossed out. My girlfriend has a similar tome lent to us by another well-meaning friend. We have agreed upon a complicated system of vetoes that would make the UN look like a model of concordance and productivity.

It is actually quite fun. We just call names out in no particular order and the other person has to give a gut reaction, generally based on the criterion “Was I ever bullied by a person of this name?” We mix it up a bit, throwing in the odd silly name to get a laugh. This also helps in case my girlfriend laughs at one of my serious suggestions – I can then just pretend that there was no way I was ever really contemplating calling out firstborn Stanley.

Most of my gut reactions are what the kid will get called as a nickname.

“Guy?” suggests my girlfriend.

“Gay.”

“Ben?”

“Bender.”

“Graham?”

“Gay-am.”

There was a lot of homophobia at my school.

We also quickly settle on “pony” as shorthand for any girls’ name like Camilla or Fenella which sounds like it belongs to the sort of person who might have a pony.

“Briony?” asks my girlfriend.

“Pony.”

“I really like it.”

“Nope. Definite pony.”

My girlfriend flicks through some pages and tries again.

“What about Trudi?”

“Trudi?” I laugh. “That’s what you’d call a hamster.”

“My grandmother’s name was Trudi.”

“Er... Obviously a hamster you were very very fond of.”

I quickly try to pass a resolution that comparing a deceased ancestor’s name to that of an imaginary pet rodent does not infringe middle name rights of the other gender, but I think Stanley’s definitely off the table now.