Blame it on the name |

Blame it on the name

Meredith L. Cohen

Kids can be cruel, but oftentimes their parents are worse.Many moms and dads seemingly have subconscious axes to grind from the moment their precious bundles of joy enter the world. How else to explain naming a newborn “A’Dream?” Calling a child Lisa, Susan, Andrea or Adam, Michael or Scott, for example, doesn’t suffice for some. No, the desire that burns in some parents for their offspring to rise above others in a unique or extraordinary manner frequently begins at birth when they confer upon them inimitable names. However, most times the distinctive monikers are most remarkable only in that they condemn the name-bearers to lifetimes of being forced to spell and/or explain their names to others everyday, several times a day, for life.Take, for instance, Michele with one L. Robyn with a Y. Brie, like the cheese. Shea, as in the stadium.I enjoy being a Meredith, but the sailing hasn’t always been smooth. The incorrect pronunciations and misspellings are incessant and varied, albeit occasionally creative: Merideth, Marybeth, Meridth, Maredeth, Marydeth, Merth (no, really). Ali, Alli, Allie, Ally, Alyson, Allyson, Alison, and Allison know what I’m talking about. But at least the state of Arizona put my name on a souvenir license plate and spelled it correctly, giving me one more store-bought personalized souvenir than many others will never possess, including and especially Justamom, Truly, Cinnamon and Boots (unless, of course, the latter two shop regularly in cat specialty stores).Then there are those who are forever sentenced to being mistaken for members of the opposite gender over the phone or through the mail because of their androgynous names. Am I wrong, Jamie, Pat, Ricky, Dylan, Cory, Lynn, Adrian, Jesse, Carol, Kim, Bobby, Andre, Kelly, Carson, Jordan, Hayden, Nicky, Stacy, Alex, Jackie and Taylor?And why plague a child with anything that has the possibility of yielding any of the following nicknames: Scooter, Chip or Dick? 1952 ended with 1953, which is also the year that those names became past prime. Besides, no matter what anyone says, when a kid gets called Skippy, it’s never a good thing. Seriously.If the name Ray, Carl, Wayne or Earl appears on your driver’s license, just turn yourself into the authorities now before your picture appears on “America’s Most Wanted” and the A&E network does a special two-hour “Biography” on your record number of gruesome serial killings.Some less-than-traditional names are benign, like those taken from street signs – Madison and Cooper. Other innocent tags are inspired by the seasons – Autumn, Winter and Summer. (Sadly and mysteriously, Spring has never made the baby-naming cut.) The weather stirs others when it comes time to name the kids, hence Sunshine and Rain. (Perhaps Sleet and Humidity will be popular on the next generation of birth certificates.) Growing up, I knew a girl, April, whose younger sisters were named May and June. Rumor has it they had a dog named July. It was kind of cute, in a pukey sort of way.It’s practically a requirement for celebrities to bestow outlandish names on their kids (e.g. Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli [Wolfgang], Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin [Apple], Jermaine Jackson [Jermajesty and Jaafar], Demi Moore and Bruce Willis [Rumer, Tallulah, Scout], Jason Lee [Pilot Inspektor], George Foreman [George Jr., George III, George IV, George V and George VI]). But most kids of famous parents live in Los Angeles, and something is mostly weird about everyone in LA. Besides, if your dad is a two-time world heavyweight champion or if your parents collectively display an Oscar and four Grammys on the mantle in the den, chances are slim that anyone will make you give up your favorite swing in the playground or shake you down for your milk money in the cafeteria. Report to therapy immediately if your first name is Lester or Tawana, but blaming parents for an unfortunate last name is senseless – surnames are factory-made and non-refundable. However, do go ahead and wag a finger of reproach at mom and dad if they’ve opted to burden you with a hyphenated last name. Hyphenated last names all but guarantee that anyone filling out a form with those little boxes will run out of the little boxes before the name is complete. And the name will never appear in the same place in an alphabetized list, as someone will never be sure which half of the last name should be used first. A word to the wise – just pick one last name and go with it. Nope, a last name can’t be helped, but when it comes to the first name, parents should always remember what George Carlin said: “Soft names make soft people … I’ll bet you 10 times out of 10, Nicky, Vinnie and Tony would beat the shit out of Todd, Kyle and Tucker.”Plain old Bill and Jane are sounding better by the minute, no?Meredith Cohen swears there really are people living somewhere in Colorado named Cinnamon, Justamom and Boots, although their genders remain a mystery. It has been confirmed, however, that A’Dream is a woman. Questions or comments may be e-mailed to

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