Karen And Brandon Got Married

Karen and Brandon got married…. and changed their names by deed poll.

This morning, I picked up the book I’ve been reading and read the first line, about the main character hiring a lawyer named Brandon. And giggled.

At which point it occurred to me what the last two years have done to two — before this — perfectly respectable names: Karen and Brandon.

Now, Karen was starting to be a little old-fashioned. part of the reason for the image of “Karen” is that this is a thirty or forty something woman who is sure that things should be played by the rules that she believes in. I’m very glad this wasn’t applied to my generation, because otherwise it would all be Heather or Dawn. (Amanda seems to be more cross generational. I know a dozen of them, but they extend from their sixties to their twenties, so–)

However Brandon so far as I know is still immensely popular, having been popular since the eighties when a lot of “sound like last names” became suddenly “refined” and “desirable” for kids’ names.

(The even less sane trend of adding “son” to the end of names to make them sound like last names was a ten (?) years ago thing. All those Petersons and Jacksons probably wonder what was wrong with their parents’ heads. Well, I did. And neither of my sons appreciated it when people added son to the end of their names to show willing or something.)

Now if we start discussing crazy names people give to kids we’ll be here all day. Younger son went to school with someone named Aaereek, pronounced Erik. And in fact the “let’s spell it weirdly to show our creativity” was in full bloom when I had my kids.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but when first son was born, I was invited — of all things — to a focus group on names. They paid $50 and at the time we were unemployed, had a new baby born by — very expensive — emergency caesarean and I’d have done far less savory things for money. We needed groceries.

So I went to the focus group. And every one of those persons had given the kid an “original” (read bizarrely spelled) name to show their “creativity” and “originality.” (Why they couldn’t simply show it by painting the nursery an unusual color, I don’t know.) So it came to me, and they asked what I’d named my son, and I said “Robert Anson.” And they asked how I spelled it, and I explained. There was utter silence in the room, and then someone said “Was he named after his grandfather?” I opened my mouth to explain, closed it, then said “Yeah, let’s go with that.” Because, really, I didn’t think I could explain.

But Brandon…. Relatively sane middle of the road name to give your kids two or three years ago. And Karen well, imagine it’s a family name and you’re naming her after mom or grandma….

Little Karen will be made fun of in kindergarten and told to “shut up Karen.” (The only thing that will make it worse is if she has the kind of parents who, against all reason, insist on strapping a mask on her.) And Brandon is going to be greeted with “Let’s go” and giggles.

Well, all I can say is it might pass.

I mean before our son could even walk, our fun name for him was “Bobbit.” And then…. Lorena…. well. It’s not as immediate a laugh thing, now. But people still remember it. Fortunately we stopped calling him that immediately.

In the same way right after second son had been born, there was a notorious killer by his name. Fortunately by the time he hit school no one remembered, but all the same. (And he goes by his middle name, anyway.)

You can’t tell, of course. You can’t tell what’s going to become of the name you gave your kids.

I will only say that Karen and Brandon are the two fastest tarnishings of names I’ve ever seen.

But they’re not in bad company. I’d say they should talk to all the girls named Gay, but of course, most of them are over ninety.

All you can do, really, is either give the kids an uber-popular name and hope they hide in the dense pack; give them a solidly traditional name — as I did my kids. Mostly — because if it hasn’t acquired a bad meaning, it probably won’t (Though Gay, you know?) and give them a middle name or two, to let them use if the first name becomes to weird.

When the use of a name, in a book, makes you giggle, it might be too late to rehabilitate it.

And for those on our side, take heart. Both of those names were thoroughly tarnished by us. By the real resistance. And it’s everywhere.

(Though the left’s attempt to make “Karen” someone who DOESN’T want to submit to their crazy diktats was, admittedly, adorable. It was also crazy. They can’t meme, and they also can’t understand things that go memetic.)

In cultural terms, this means we’re winning. There’s more of us than of them. In the cultural war, we’re engaged in mopping up the stragglers.

In their high command, completely isolated from reality, Brandon is shouting orders to ghost artillery.

330 thoughts on “Karen And Brandon Got Married

  1. I recently needed a 1993 book-to-be-reprinted scanned (they did a good job, BTW: smoothphotoscanning dot com), and my service rep was named “Brandon”. I, of course, am a “Karen”. We condoled (in email) with each other on the irritation of drawing losing numbers in the meme lottery.

    I have to disagree about the age group for real world “Karens”. I think its popularity was from the ’50s (I was born in ’53 and knew several other contemporaries), which makes me particularly irate since the incompetent memesters want a picture of a woman in her 30s scolding them with a raised finger, but it really suggests someone in their 60s. But, then, the Left never could meme well.

    1. I concur with that, I’m just 60 (born in ’61) and all the Karens I knew were ever so slightly older (born say ’55-’59). At least in the Northeast there were two prominent girls names Susan and the Lisa/Laura/Lauren pairing. Although though my memory doesn’t match here https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/names1960s.html which has Karen at #4, Lisa as #1 and Susan (Of which there were at least a dozen in my grammar school year) nowhere to be seen. Brandon never rises above 17 in 1980/1990/2000/2010.
      If you use the top 5 names each year Susan shouws up 1961-1964 as 3rd so that explains MY running into so many of them, and looking by state and year CT in 1961 Susan was second after Lisa. The website is an amusing time waster…

      1. From your link… “Karen” is #8 in the 1950s, and #4 in the 1960s, and then drops off precipitously, vanishing from the top lists. So, I’m betting circa 1953-1967, or something like that, was the concentration. Making the youngest of them… 54. Which is not the mothers of the whiners, but closer to their grandmothers, and the older bunch are squarely in the grandmother generation.

        1. In one choir I sing with Karina, Catrina, Karena, and Kay. All in the 55-75 age range. Sort of like the year I had Caitlin, Cate, Kate, Katy, and Katherine, and Catherine. Four of whom insisted on sitting together. *sigh in cat*

          1. Could have been worse, though. In Zaragoza, Spain – the local patron saint is Mary the Blessed Mother. (She appeared to a local notable, standing on an ancient pillar in what had been the Roman-era forum.) It came about that just about all the girls in the neighborhood were christened either Maria Pilar or Maria Conchita. Our unit’s civilian secretary was named Conchita; she told us that when she was in high school, all fourteen of her best friends were named Conchita.
            This confused all their potential boyfriends no end, not to mention their teachers.

            1. For those interested, Concha/Conchita is a nickname for Concepcion, although “concha” literally means shell or a hollow/depression in the earth.

              The apparition was to St. James the Greater, the apostle (aka Santiago) when he was evangelizing in Spain.

            2. My mother decided she didn’t care how popular the name Mary was, she wanted one of her own. (waves) Then it was Jennifer who was always running into other Jennifers. . . .

              1. I knew a family, all of the kids names started with J.

                The mother, and all of her siblings, started with I.

                And, yes, Grandma’s name was Helene.

                I foresee problems in about 150 years when they get to Q.

                1. My high school bestie was one of seven, all starting with M. Their parents were Michael and Marilyn.

      2. Oddly enough, my youngest sister was named “Karen” in 1959 because it was as similar as my parents could get (and stay relatively traditional) to my paternal grandmother’s middle name, “Katura,” which was from a PA Dutch family in 1880. I always thought Katura would have been a much cooler name…

        1. And I’m not a “normal” Karen, either. My war-bride mother from Flemish-speaking Antwerp thought it a good Dutch name. 🙂

          On the other hand, with Elon Musk calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Senator Karen”, I find my name being in the cultural crosshairs is not all bad…

          1. A Japanese woman, given name Rin, has a house in the United Kingdom, named Caer Rin.

            (Not really, but I think I may have to go with that for some Fate/Stay Night fanfics.)

            As in, literally be compelled to do so, by my own mental weirdness.

            1. Now that sounds interesting. I’d like to see more about that house. I have a weakness for fantastic (fantasy) houses.

              1. I hate to disappoint, but my main usable Fate project is unlikely to have anything actually cool where that is concerned.

          2. One of the nicest checkout girls at my grocery is a Karen, too, she’s maybe mid-20s.

            I suspect it has to be uncommon enough to be a sort of socio-cultural signal.

    2. People don’t look as old as they are amymore. Watching old movies, oat easy to think the a tora are 20-30 years older than they actually are.

      I suspect what’s going on with the meme is that most of them are in their 60’s but have taken great pains to present as though they were in the 30’s. Hence the plasticine sheen many of them seem to have acquired somewhere along the way.

    3. SIL is named Karen – she was born in 1968.

      $SPOUSE$ laid down a law a while ago. I now am only allowed to use the old-fashioned “Mrs. Grundy” to refer to a member of the species.

    4. I’m not sure it has to be a losing number; what gives this sort of meme its power is the court jester aspect. If someone is able and willing to lean into that in good humor the sting goes away and even the most vicious mockers develop a respect of those who can stand up under fire.

      Meanwhile the targets who can’t take it in humor just get mocked more and harder the more they scream.

    5. The “karen” shouldn’t be in her 30s because she’s supposed to have her 1.6 Perfect Children who are out of high school at least– although they do tend to look 30s because desperately unhappy, upper middle class, regretting life and making everyone else regret living is going to cling to that. 😀

    6. I assume you wish to speak with fluffy, then? Sarah has delegated her to receive all management inquiries.

      Ps. Sorry…I had to and cannot believe no one else has.

      P.p.s. bring ketchup

    7. Sigh. 70 here (b. 1952). Pops was sure he was going to get a girl. She would have been Brenda. He didn’t, hence “Brandon” (he thought he improvised the name: it’s actually old French for “flaming sword” …I thought that was pretty cool when I found it in a dictionary while in middle school). Growing up, there were NO other “Brandon’s” (well, the child actor Brandon de Wilde was the only one I was familiar with). So when I heard the name – anywhere – that meant me. (I think I was about 22 or so – early 1970’s – when I first heard a Mom calling her toddler “Brandon” and realized “hey, not me” lol).

      …not related at all to the name but good story anyways. I was at a summer-in-the-park concert in the late 1960’s (I was 17 at the time) in our small town when this unfamiliar guy came up and started talking to me in the personal and familiar manner you use when you’re best friends with someone. I was completely bewildered. As was he when he realized that I wasn’t his buddy from back in LA whom he’d run into a few hundred miles away. Doppelganger. According to him, I looked *exactly* like his buddy.

      (Kind of unnerving to me at the time. But hey. 1960’s peace, love, and rock-n-roll lol. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run into “me-not-me” after that. I’m out there somewhere lol.)

    8. a picture of a woman in her 30s scolding them with a raised finger


      Whereas we’ve got a woman in her 50s scolding the scolds with her own raised Finger. 😀

  2. In one pre-WW2 novel, the male main character had the first name of “Gaylord” and told a little girl that she could call him “Gay”. 😆

    1. Wisconsin once had politician ‘Gaylord Nelson’ and the school youth of the time, well… so much for serious political discussion. Admittedly unlikely to start, but… impossible with that.

  3. I had a classmate named Gay (graduated in ’82), and it did, indeed, cause a bit of comment. My wife and I named out daughter “Kehaulani” (she mostly gets called “KK”). I once asked her if she was mad about that, but she said “Nope! I love my name!”

    Also, all three of my brothers are getting embroidered “Let’s Go Brandon” hats for Christmas. 🙂 The wife and I already have ours (and got a lot of compliments when we wore them while working a recent gun show).

    1. I worked with a woman named Gatian (gay-shen) who went by Gay. This was early -mid 80s, so if she’s still alive, she’d be 85 or so? now.

    2. I knew a “Gaye” who was…maybe fifteen years younger than my mom? So born no earlier than 1965. (Red hair, freckles, sculptor of Small Cute Objects. I don’t think she could’ve been named anything ELSE.)

    1. Likely not so much 🙂 Though certainly in my daughters years (early to mid 90’s) there were hordes of Alexandra, Alexa and Alexis among the names.

      1. A few years ago I was reading my daughter a juvenile SF/F series in which one of the characters was named “Sirin”. I was reading on the Kindle app on my iPhone, and every time the protagonist said, “Hey, Sirin” (which was often), my phone would interrupt with “doo-doop” and drop me out of Kindle. Grrrr.

  4. Then there’s the slang term, “getting gay with,” which seems to mean, “taking liberties.” ( Another outdated term.) But somewhere in, “The Skylark of Space,” there’s a comment concerning a criminal getting gay with Dr. Marc C. Duquesne. It ends badly for the criminal.
    For that matter, I think Schmitz used the same term in, “A Tale of Two Clocks,” in relation to Quillan. Same bad ending.

      1. “Gay tail” is a technical term, it means to carry the tail above the level of the back. In some breeds it’s a fault, in others it’s preferred.

      1. My father had a copy of Second Stage Lensman. I grabbed, and then I discovered I could order the rest of the books in the series! O,Bliss! Schmitz I found on my own.

  5. One of my husband’s employees is named Karen. Since she is not, repeat NOT a liberal/progressive, she’s probably not thrilled with the whole, “Karen,” thing.
    And I just discovered our new mailman, who is bearded and vaguely hippie-ish, is a Brandon. He said he doesn’t mind the chant.
    Part of me feels sorry for the poor “color commentator,” who inadvertently started the whole, “Let’s Go, Brandon, ” thing – though I think I feel more sorry for Brandon the first-time NASCAR winner.

    1. I suspect that the “color commentator” was desperate to deny that the forbidden f-word was being broadcast – repeatedly, from thousands of voices. Even setting aside the target of that f-word, if she admitted it, the FCC would have to take official notice, and she and her employer would be fried to a crisp.

  6. Some friends of mine had a little boy, and wanted to name him with two “creative” names.

    Several people, in combination, managed to talk them into a “creative” first name that could be shortened to a normal-ish nickname, combined with a very boring middle name.

    The kid’s six, and is already going by his middle name.

    1. One of my husband’s co-workers in New Jersy was Muslim and had named her son Mohammed. This was around 2001. Some time after 9/11, he informed his mother that from this point on, he wanted to be called, “Moe.” Because all his schoolmates were calling him, “Mohamster.”

    2. I saw a story a few years ago about a creative name. I’m taking the entire thing with a pound of salt, but here goes: The new mother wrote her baby daughter’s name as “La-a”. Upon questioning, she pronounced it Ladasha.

      1. Keller. Kinard. Kenleighly.

        First two are old family names of BIL. In fact not quite Kinard Jr (different middle names). Do not know where niece and nephew in law got the great niece’s name; no idea.

        (Very) New great-niece is “Logan Marie” … Logan as a boys name, yes. Logan as a girls name? Wait! What?

        1. It’s the “last names are girls’ names” rule of contemporary naming.

          I have to say, I’d be compelled to call the kid “Loganberry,” just because that sounds more feminine and less Wolverine.

          1. That was also a Southern convention as well. Then you get names that can be either, like Morgan. Which led to one of my professors (Welsh) who married a gent from a Welsh family . . . and whose married name gave computer systems migraines. (Same first and last name).

      2. My husband brought the whiskey to a friend’s house, JUST to get when-they-were-in-port rundowns of “creative” names.

        There were a few variations on La-a. Somewhere around Norfolk.

    1. Actually I have a friend (only in her 50’s I believe) named Gay. Her husband forbade her to take his name when they got married. His last name is Mann.

    2. One of L.M. Montgomery’s books has a Gay; it’s her nickname though. Her given name is Gabriella.

    3. I knew a Gaylord several years ago. I’d say that by now he must be in his mid 70’s at least, if not older.

      1. My very small Christian elementary school used “gaylord” as slang for exactly that. Whether that was because we’d get a free visit to the principal’s office otherwise, I dunno.

  7. Little Brother wants/wanted to name his firstborn “Tiberius.” After the “T” in “James T. Kirk.” Or something equally “unique.” Hopefully Sister-In-Law puts her foot down on that. Not that they’re expecting (as far as I know), this is just something he talked about when we were younger.

    I told him that if he did, I was gonna give Little Tiberius Krav Maga or Ju-Jitsu lessons for their birthday every year from the time they could walk. Because the poor kid would desperately need them.

      1. We gave our sons Irish middle names but their first names are apostles. Thankfully they’re family names too. Had we had a third boy he would have been John and a girl Theresa. The wife wouldn’t go for Maria Theresa though. I might have snuck Christian through for a boy if I kept my mouth shut.

      2. AFAIK, Peter was supposed to be my middle name. What is now my middle name got displaced because a certain comic strip got popular shortly before I was born, and that was the name of the lead character. Mom’s best friend gave useful advice. (Thank, you, L) That name was pretty rare when I was growing up. One friend had that name, but his mother was Canadian.

        OTOH, Peter is/was relatively uncommon when I was growing up. I was the only one in my class in elementary classes, and I only recall a few in our large high school.

      1. It is possible inside of common American practice to have a given name that is also a valid praenomen, and a surname that is also valid as the name of a Roman gentes.

  8. I was in telephone customer service when Mr. Jenner decided to transition… glad enough that one seems to have been a flash-in-the-pan joke, haven’t had it cracked in years

  9. I was researching Nikola Tesla for my second novel and discovered our newest pregnancy was going to be a girl. We have a lot of Nicks in our family so I tried my husband out on “Tesla Rose Ramthun.” We could call her Tess. My husband told me he was NOT going to name his daughter after a bad 80’s hair band. I looked it up. Uh, yikes.

    Thank goodness Tesla Rose became Olivia Rose, or I would have a daughter named after a car. Whew. Dodged that bullet.

    1. In A Fish Called Wanda, one of the characters is a Brit who has a daughter named Portia. Another character hears this and laughs, saying, “He named his daughter after a car!” A bit later, a third character says to the first, “He’s so dumb he thinks you named your daughter after the car . . .”

      A friend of mine told me about seeing the film in the theater, when there was an extraverted young woman in the audience who commented on the film to her date. At one point she laughed loudly and said, “He named his daughter for the car!” A while later she fell silent suddenly.

    2. You might be able to tick off some electrical engineers by saying that Heaviside and Westinghouse would be more important to name people after than Tesla.

  10. How about the girl that named her daughter “Ashley” with the unique spelling of “Asshole”? I wonder how that little girl has dealt with school…

    My kids names are classics: Daniel and Kathryn. I did not want them to be made fun of because of their names (and neither child has allowed their names to be shortened by well-meaning relatives…although Daniel’s occasionally gone by “Dan” in school, because “it’s shorter to write”).

    1. Yeah, my husband and I deliberately went for more normal names, with middle names that had a variety of available nicknames if something Karen-ish happened to either of them. We wanted them to have names that weren’t just cute on a kid, but you could put on a business card without going ‘is this a joke?’

      1. There should be a big sign in every maternity waiting room:

        THE KID WILL HAVE TO GO THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL WITH THAT NAME

            1. In Eluki bes Shahar’s Hellflower series, the progagonist’s name is “Butterflies-are-free Peace Sincere.”

    2. I am firmly of the opinion that names – at least in the western world – should be drawn from a) family, b) the Bible and c) out of Shakespeare. And not spelled creatively, either, out of mercy to school-teachers.
      My grandson has three family names, all spelled conventionally: James Alexander-Page, after uncles, great-grandfather and great-great uncle.

      1. We deliberately did the EXACT opposite! Even though I really could have gotten a lot of mileage out of William John. William, for my (then, barely, 6 weeks before) dead *FIL, hubby’s sister (Billie Jean), and my dad’s youngest brother. John for dad. But reality check. Because the “name after family members” is a thing in my huge extended family there are a lot of “Little Bill”, “Little John”, “Cousin John”, etc. So we went through a baby book. Eliminated were any known family or best friends names. No one could claim the baby was named “after them”.

        * Caught grief for NOT naming baby after FIL by MIL. She blamed me. Nope. Not the one who vetoed.

        1. My grandmother didn’t have a name until she was a teen, because she had two older sisters named for her dad’s sisters.

          In each case, shortly after the baby was born, the sister they were named for died.

          Her dad apparently broke down in tears and REFUSED to name for either of the two left, because “I only have two sister’s left, and I don’t want to choose!”
          (in retellings this was told with multiple implications….)

          That morphed into a family tradition of not naming for living relatives, tilted into a “because I wouldn’t want you to die” joke… or are we joking, dun dun DUN!

          Which came in handy, since my husband’s grandfather’s family had a tradition of eldest son having the grandfather’s given name as a middle name.
          The grandfather that was going to be pissy gave his son a name that cannot work as a middle name, especially with their last name.

          1. Childhood friend. First name and married last name are similar enough to be tough twister. Initials CC.

              1. I think that is what my grandmothers were suppose to do as neither were given middle names. But neither did.

                My sister did. She dropped her middle name, and took our maiden name as her middle name. But that was as much because she was a teacher under her maiden name before she got married. So this transition was as much for the students as well as the administration. As in “Who is the heck is MEW VS MEL? Oh. MLW, because the recognized ML. I think little sister did too because she was working before she got married. Me? I was married before I finished my degree and went to work. Did get the degree under my maiden name. Did make it interesting when referencing prior work. For reasons the company in question did NOT ask for prior names used. Being inexperienced, I didn’t note it. It was figured out.

                I mentioned in prior comments on other topics for medical reasons, back before computerization ability to easily cross check on phone or address, that I had medical folders marked with First, Middle, Maiden, and married names. Because full legal married signature is too dang common, even for the small-ish town off I-5 we lived in at the time (bigger than Drain, Yoncolla, or Elton, but no where near even Eugene size). But maiden name, while not unusual throughout the US or even England, is not common in Oregon (mostly relatives).

          2. One of the (many) things for which I honor my father is for standing up to some incredible pressure from his father to have me named Adrian after him. Now Adrian is a fine, upstanding name, but I would have hated to be in High School with that when Rocky came out. Grampa was miffed some more when I wasn’t given his name as a middle name, but Robert A. would have been almost as bad. And I would not have had the – gravitas – to discourage such shenanigans as someone named after, say, a Robert Anson might have had . . .

          3. My parents wanted to honor my grandmothers by naming me after them and didn’t want to choose between them because of a reasonable fear that I would be the only girl. As a result, I have two fairly unique middle names.
            Dad’s family runs to boys. He has five brothers and two sisters. I have two younger brothers. If they picked only one someone’s feelings would have been hurt. I like my two middle names, I just wish they’d switched the order around, the initials are a bit….unfortunate, if you spend any time around someone in the military. EITHER of my grandpas OUGHT to have given them a heads-up.

    3. A friend named the former tells me that rhyming comments with certain dog breeds got annoying quickly and a certain 80s pop culture reference also got old fast. The latter might be long gone though I’m not familiar enough with Cobra Kai to know if that’s the case.

      1. My daughters probably thought they were both named “Stop that Sarah-Katie-whoever-you-are!”

        1. My wife was named Sharon, her mother Shirley, and her dog Cheri (with the French pronunciation). Her father once got all three names wrong in some rant.

        2. Our names, my sisters and I, were Diane-Marilyn-Charmaine-dammit, when mom was mad. Usually only one of us, but she had to run through all 3 names.

          1. My wife calls it “calling the roll” , especially as the granddaughters’ names all start with Mc…

          1. Since I made my confirmation, Ive sported four names. My mother used to roll them off when I was in trouble, each one higher in pitch. We didn’t do that to my children but we still tend to call them by both given names even when they’re not in trouble. Don’t know why, but we always did.

            Confirmation names are the best because you can pick them yourself. I picked Anthony, which confused poor Bishop Ferns no end because I was an unmistakable Irish ginger, among a host of Italian kids, and I picked an Italian confirmation name. I had Patrick and Gerard as middle names already — patron Saint of expectant mother’s and the origin of all those Irish boys with G as their middle initial.

          2. Ours, too. When Mom rolled out the trifecta, we were in Trouble.

            Kat the dog is loosely named after a CSI character: Catherine Willows. (dropped to a single syllable because border collie. When she gets into sufficient trouble, $SPOUSE uses Catherine.
            C

            1. When, like me, you have multiple middle names, they only get pulled out for REALLY serious offenses 😀
              It’s too much of a mouthful otherwise.

    1. That’s similar to a story in my family, except that it seems to have been somewhat true.

    2. My Grandma had a cat named dammit! because every time Grandma would use that particular word, the cat thought he was being called and stuck his head around the corner.

          1. Your cat only has one alternate name? Ours have a dozen apiece, ranging from “floof” to “Popcorn, Our Lady of the Perpetual Period”.

  11. I believe Tom Lehrer mentioned on one of his records an acquaintance whose name was Gary, spelled G-A-3-R-Y. The 3 was silent. Of course that was meant to be satire back in the 60’s. I remember in IIRC 2nd grade, the nuns were asking everybody their patron saints, and I proudly said, “Francis of Assisi.” It didn’t help that I pronounced it with a short “i” like sissy. Fortunately I was a rather pugnacious kid, and the ridicule didn’t last long.

    1. I remember that. Have no idea which song.
      Right now, I just hope, “We Will All Go Together When We Go,” doesn’t wind up as prophecy.

      1. Being more of a Tom Lehrer aficionado than I should admit, his friend was Hen3ry (the 3 was silent), a resident of the Massachusetts Home for the Bewildered. This is part of the lead in to “We Will All etc”.

      2. I think it was the lead-in to “Guadalajara”, and it was “H-E-N-3-R-Y”. It’s on the album “An Evening (Wasted) With Tom Lehrer”. And I agree about “WWAGTWWG”…but I’m not optimistic.

        1. “In Old Mexico” used the tale of Doctor Samuel Gall (inventor of the gall bladder) as the lead-in. As I said, I’m more of a TL aficionado than I should admit (at least outside Odd company).

          Some friends and I got hold of the records in high school, and the humor stuck. I’m not sure what I still have on LPs, but I have the CD collection called The Remains of Tom Lehrer, which seems to have everything he ever published. There’s a big band version of WWAGTWWG…

          1. Found “An Evening (Wasted) With Tom Lehrer” at the mall record store, then proceeded to the Radio Shack where I frequently shopped for parts. “Mind if I use this album to check out this turntable?” “Help yourself!”
            Wonder if they ever made that mistake again.

          2. You’re almost certainly right. I hadn’t listened to it for years, but I remembered the “Hen3ry” as being somewhere on it, and apparently conflated it with the bit about retiring to Mexico. Memory is the second thing to go… 😉

  12. This is the third post of yours that I had to navigate to directly. Facebook locks up when I try to open the comments to follow your link to a post. They may have figured out the link in first comment trick.

  13. So, when it comes to people giving their kids weird names, I’m a little sensitive. I NEVER use my real name on-line, for the simple reason that it is distinctive enough that it would be stupid easy to find me in real life, were I to do to.

    I have long maintained that ‘It’s a family name’ is no excuse for some of the atrocities people lumber their children with. I keep telling people, ‘it might be cute when they’re 2-3, but they have to be adults with that name. Can you see a CEO or a Doctor or even the President with that name? If not, let your kid off the hook and pick something more normal.’ I work as a data analyst in the medical insurance industry and I have seen some truly horrible names that kids have had slapped on them.

    My name isn’t weird so much as very old-fashioned. I was named after my paternal grandmother. In high school I had to ask to have my contact information removed from the school directory to stop the disgusting prank calls. One summer as a late teen I went to a camp my church puts on every year at BYU in Utah. I was given a roommate named Candy. I told them that I knew they thought they were being funny, but we sounded like a pair of hookers. I can laugh about it now (most of the people I deal with these days are mature adults), but growing up was more than a bit rough.

    No, it never occurred to me to go by my middle name (that one’s not any better). I was probably 15-16 before I discovered that was even allowed and by then I was pretty much resigned to it. I had a plan to march myself down to the county courthouse on my 18th birthday to legally change my name (had one all picked out), but by the time my birthday rolled around I’d already started college and the worst of the problems had disappeared. Now I’m reconciled with it, but I still don’t put it anywhere public on the internet.

    I have a long list of names I will never burden a child with, starting with my name, and followed by my parents’ names.

    And DO NOT get me started on spelling. If you spell it weird that kid is going to have their name mispronounced their entire lives. Also, punctuation is NOT part of the alphabet!

      1. My wife is a college Professor and she’s had some odd ones But the weirdest was 4Nomore . Yes they were a 4th child, no nobody slapped the parents as they should have. We wondered what the siblings names were…

      2. When my mother was first teaching, decades ago, she had a student named NF. His last name started with an L. My mother speculated his father was a big fan of the NFL.

        1. When my grandfather was in the navy he met a man named Ronly Bonly Jones. He had been born R B Jones. No name just the initials. When he enlisted the Navy kept complaining that he wasn’t allowed to use intials. So he finally put R(Only) B(only) Jones on the paperwork. Navy took the parenthases out of the equation and dubbed him Ronly Bonly Jones. He decided it would be easier to legally change his name than argue with the navy. So he went by RB like he had his entire life and the Navy was apeased.

          1. I had read of that in a book about names ages ago. And someone once claimed to have debunked it. But as things go… I’ve taken to figuring ‘debunked’ sans proof of such is worth about as much as the hole where the ore used to be.

          2. Like Dr. JB in M.A.S.H? Named after father, Jay, and mom, Bea. There was at least a two episode running gag when besty, Hawkeye was trying to wheedle out what the initials stood for.

          3. I have heard that story told of the Man in Black (the singer), but other branch of the service.

      3. A couple years ago I got a summons for failure to pay child support. At that point the child was three. Needless to say, not only had I not done anything that’s required to create a child with anyone other than my wife for more than the previous twenty years, but I’d not even been in the county of the childs’ birth for ten years. Got even more complex as I found that the plaintiff wasn’t the mother (three years later, I still don’t know the mother’s name)

        This poor ( I assume) girl has the name Amaiyire. MIddle name is a misspelled name of a fantasy television character, but you can at least pronounce it.

        Despite having sucessfully defended myself against the suit (at an out of pocket cost of $2500!) I fear we shall all be paying for the upkeep of this child at least until she’s 18, if not longer.

      4. I’ve had Dijon (male), and Nosaj (Jason backwards) in class. Somalia (male), Fanta (but she was from Mali, so I’m guessing her parents didn’t think of the soda). There are many others that I can’t think of right now.

        1. Fanta Sacko is a famous Mali female singer/musician, and Fanta Damba was a famous Mali female griot, or djelimuso. Fanta means “beautiful” among Mandinka ethnic groups in several countries, and so it’s a popular African name for girls.

          However, there are also men in Mali named Fanta.

    1. Yeah. We’re nailing down a name, and my only veto rules are, it must be easy to spell correctly, and it needs to have at least one normal pronunciation.

      (Slight challenge because at least one name is pronounced one way by English speakers and another way by Spanish speakers, and the spouse does not like the way it’s pronounced in English. We’ll probably go with that one though. Though I’m also absolutely fine with Valerie, too.)

    2. OTOH, it’s a shame that old traditional and family names are being lost, whether to fashion or to mean kids. (I’d probably like your name!)

    3. Or “would this still be funny if it was YOUR name?”
      And “think like the biggest a-hole you ever met. Do you want your four year old dealing with that?”

      Names are sensitive— yeah, I’ll make jokes about them, but not painful ones, and if you name say a beautiful little girl for her grandfather, at least change the spelling! (Robert. She’s nearly 40. They “compromised” with a nickname. Robby. Note spelling. Worse, Roberta would’ve sounded NICE with their name…..)

      1. Randolph (female, named for her grandfather. Middle name is mother’s male-centric name). In college she marked female on the housing form, housing office figured that was an error and gave her a male roommate. Hilarity ensued when she showed up on campus…

        1. My dad’s name is Gayle and this happened to him as well. He told us that he would disown anyone who named a grandchild after him. Our boys have very traditional family first names and interesting middle names.

      2. There are guys who would say yes. Some of them may grow beyond that by the time they are in a position to have children.

        1. :puts on list of things to suggest her children speak to their significant other about BEFORE getting married:

          Seriously, that kind of “but it was funny!” cruelty is Really Not Cool when someone has absolute power over another.

          1. I joke that if we had had a second daughter, I would have wanted to name her “Severina” — first or middle — just so in college she could hang her head and mutter, “Yeah, my parents were goths.”

            1. Why not Anna, Wanda or Melisse — the three vampire women liv— err, residing in Castle Dracula?

            1. Also, trying to figure out if I have grown out of an odd taste in names, and unusual sense of appropriate names. Or would finish growing out of it, if a child was on the way.

              Today may be the first time that I’ve looked at the problem from a really mature perspective.

                  1. Aspiring, hell.

                    Back when I was going to Norwescon, I would occasionally register my badge with the name “Plutonium VultureBadger”. When people would ask, I would say it was my pagan name: a metal, a bird, and a mammal. Hey, it worked for Silver RavenWolf, right?

                1. Tharg the Barbarian, STR 18/00, INT 3 died by DM spite after “stupidly” going off the reservation one too many times. All 35 goblin darts crit-hit: “backlit by flames whilst taunting goblins”. Blessed is the name of the DM…

              1. When I was a really young kid, I thought my parents had a really inappropriate sense of humor.

                It grew on me, and that is part of why mine is so very strange.

                But there are definitely stunts not appropriate to involve one’s young children in.

    4. Took hubby’s name at marriage. Very, Very, common.

      But try being an 18 year old (very) naive co-ed first season with USFS crew in the sticks in the middle of nowhere. Had spent the prior year as a freshman in college. I must have had very mature considerate classmates, most of whom were older. Seasons ’75, ’76, by ’77 someone read them the riot act (’78 different district and crew and no problems). Last name Lovelace. I had no, none, zip, clue what the questions were regarding. I still had no clue after it was explained who they were talking about (very, very, naive), except that they were being crude rude.

    5. A friend worked medical. The child’s name was “Female.” Friend asked the mother how to pronounce the name. Fa-ma-lee. Where did you get that name?

      “I dunno. She was named that when they brung her to me.”

  14. Fortunately for Brandons, that one will likely only retain it’s notoriety until the current administration is out of power.

    1. The many variations of Catherine– ahahah, you sweet fools who think it merely C or K!– are a GOLDMINE for creative spelling.

      That’s BEFORE you get into things like ‘Katrine’ that are borrowed/variations.

      1. Yes younger daughter is one of the K variants. Why you ask? Actually shes named after an Irish Great Grandmother, however if we had used the C variant (and the middle name we had chosen) her initials would have been CRC. This would have been fine except my wife is a Chemistry Professor and CRC was Chemical Rubber Company who made the giant books with all the constants (now everyone just uses wolframalpha). In addition I am a Software Engineer where CRC means Cyclic Redundancy Check. There was a brief temptation to stay with the C spelling, but both of us decided we did not want to do that to our child and be THOSE parents 🙂 .

      2. Diane is the same. Not quite as many options. But are a few. “Is that with an I or Y? One or two N’s? With or without an E or A?”

        I had to go into Forestry then Software to stop there being more than two of us at work (HS graduation had a dozen Diane’s of various spellings). At least the only one in my division. Helped when I was the only female co-worker. Although someone’s wife was also named Diane; then they got divorced. Happened with scouts too. Then the last job we had 6 other Diane’s call for support. It was so much fun when one of the guys got a message “Diane called”. (Not me.) Even when I took the call: “Hi this is Diane” (no context). Me. Sigh. “Diane here.” Pause, both sides. Two reasons. 1) Name echoed. 2) New clients weren’t expecting a female voice. “Okay. I know this isn’t me. Which Diane?” Always got a laugh. They learned to say “Diane with X”.

        1. On my first overseas, I lived in a dorm (40 enlisted girls) with four Diane’s and three Mary’s. Also Two Julies. You’d not believe the number of guys who would call either of the two phones in the dorm asking for Diane, Mary or Julie. Diane? Kinney, Swint (surnames) or the Georgia Peach? Julie? The jarhead or the zoomie?

          1. National Jamboree 2001. All the female volunteers for the national section (VS various regions) were bunked together, regardless of where we were actually volunteering. A third of us were Diane’s of various spellings. Also with a few Mary’s, Ann’s, etc. If it happened in fiction wouldn’t be considered credible.

            1. The Honors Program at my university was composed of twenty students per grade, ten each male & female. The class below mine had FIVE guys named Chris—Chris, Christopher, Chris, Kristan, and Kristian. And we thought our class was bad with two Matts and two Katies.

              They did make a hilarious skit about it, with everybody introducing themselves as Chris except for Joe. Who kept getting called Chris regardless.

          2. We have all Mary’s. There’s our Mary, your Mary, Big Mary, small Mary, Young Mary, Mary’s Mary and Mag’s Mary, Mary Bridget, Mary Anne — legions of them — Mary Margaret, Mary Kate, Mary Theresa, and Mary Frances. Then add the Mary’s we call by their middle names like Mary Hanora, or Mary Bernadette. Then add the Marie’s and the Maria’s and the Irish Maire, Maura, and Moira. — that started in my generation and has accelerated. Then there’s the ones whose middle name is Mary, Maria, or Marie.

            It’s all do you mind if we call you Bruce to keep it clear in our family.

        2. I asked how to spell a name. The girl glared at me and said “The normal way.” Uh…

          I don’t even remember which name it was at this point, but it was one of those with half a dozen “normal” spellings and another half dozen creating spellings.

        3. I didn’t have multiple-my-name confusion. Instead I had (have) voice confusion (I’ve sung tenor since puberty – legitimately). I cannot tell you the number of people on the phone who would call me “Sir” or, when corrected, would argue with me that I must be wrong, that my name must really be “Kevin” or “John” or something else. I could get a bit… testy… when they wouldn’t take my third teeth-gritted insistence on my actual gender as fact.

  15. Odd that we should be playing “What’s in a Name” today. I was just reading a Business insider piece on Elon Musk, who is separated from his girlfriend -who is named Grimes? Seriously? On top of that, they have an 18 Month old son who is named, no kidding, X Æ A-Xii. I had to copy paste that from the article, as I don’t know how I would reproduce it without referring to an ASCII guide for weird symbols. How you pronounce it? search me.
    I would say the kid will be teased unmercifully, but since Daddy will probably buy a school for him to go to, the other students will be paid to nod and smile and pronounce it whatever way the hell it is supposed to be.

    1. I thought for a moment it would be Greek letters, but not with the “AE” ligature, so I suppose we have to use Old English rules. So…”Zh eh ah-kzhee” (Zhehaksee or Ksahksi or even (maybe) Sexy).

    2. That’s the first thing I’ve read about Elon Musk that made me say “What an idiot”. Or, more accurately, “Well, even really smart people in one field can make really stupid decisions in another field”.

      Actually, as I was writing the above I realized that the kid’s name would be the second decision of his I find stupid. The first bad decision would be to have a kid with someone you’re not married to (at least assuming that it was a decision to have a child together and not a surprise). Splitting up is way easier when you’re not married than when you are married, and you shouldn’t choose* to have a child with someone if there’s even a small chance you might split up. That’s not fair to the child. Children need two parents in their lives, long-term; there’s plenty of research showing that kids raised by just one parent have statistically worse life outcomes. (I’m not aware of research that separates those outcomes out into children of widowed, divorced, and never-married parents; I suspect there’s a big difference, with children of widowed parents coming out best, and nobody’s doing the research because nobody wants to get those results.)

      * I know unplanned pregnancies happen, I’m talking about choosing to try to have a baby when you haven’t taken steps to make it hard to separate from each other.

      1. Considers relative and the (IMHO) unfortunate name from one of the “surprise” pregnancies.

        There are times I am extremely happy to be at least two time zones away from most of the family. I might make a comment…

      2. I vaguely recall that there was some such research done- children of divorced and not-married parents were comperably worse off than children of widows/widowers, even if they then re-married.

    3. Eks, Ash, Ae-twelve.
      Ironically, the most normal of those names may be what legally sinks it because they don’t recognize Æ (“Ash”) as a name made of the alphabet in the country the kid was registered in.

    4. Actually, he had rather decent ideas for educating his other (checks) five children. He started a school for children of Tesla employees. Started with his kids ages, then added grades as they grew. Had teachers, a principal, and the school met on the Tesla campus. So his kids had good teachers, close to parental supervision, and were in school along with other kids whose parents wanted an awesome education for their kids. Sounds better than being subjected to public school in CA, shuttled to boarding school, or having a private tutor to me…. And while his kids might not be bullied due to daddy, I’d be surprised to hear any of the kids at the (tiny) school were bullied. The reporter was rather miffed who wrote an interest piece on the school. “It’s a good school! The kids are happy! But it doesn’t help the public schools in CA! And I can’t accuse him of being selfish because the employees kids are included too! How dare he give just a few kids who want to learn access to a good education!”

  16. I have a very old fashioned given name. I’ve met the lady I was named after (a relative), her daughter with the same given name, and one other person who had the same name but one letter off (switch an interior o for an a). I’ve heard rumors of another girl on campus while I was at college but I never met her. That’s how rare my name is. Combine it with an unusual surname while growing up and you could always tell when the new teachers at the beginning of the year had gotten to your name on the first roll call. They’d be cruising along calling out names and then there’d be this big pause. I’d call out my own name and usually they’d thank me and move on. I don’t mind my name and have passed it on, but as a middle name. We went with a bit more traditional and more popular names for our kids for various reasons.

    1. I was almost a “Winifred” (for a favorite aunt of my mother’s, a nun in a Dutch convent). I wouldn’t have minded the “Fred”, but the “Winnie” would’ve driven me nuts.

      OTOH, I was born on Xmas, which is miserable (no parties). But I read of a new Xmas baby whose family name was already “Noel” who ended up as “Christie Carole Noel”… so it can always be worse. I live in hope that she grew up to call herself Spike or Butch.

      It’s not just the name… it’s the whole damn phrase.

      1. PSA to anybody having a kid on Christmas– give them a party at the opposite end of the year. Phrase it as being out of respect for Jesus if you gotta!

        (I’m a January baby, never minded the birthday-and-Christmas gift thing, but I at least got my own day!)

        1. Niece’s Birthday is Jan 1. Then her oldest daughter’s birthday is the same as her mom’s.

          MIL name is Winifred. She was called Winnie.

      2. My mom wanted to name me Cornelia after her favorite aunt who went by Cory. But she knew it would wind up as Corny and she didn’t want to do that to me. I’m very grateful.

        1. Cornelius and Cornelia are both Connie. Because Cornelius stands for Conn, Conor, etc., as a functional Irish equivalent. (Because there was a time when post-Trent priests were trained not to baptize kids with local names that weren’t in the Roman Martyrology. And then the seminary folks got over it.)

          This makes it endlessly fun to figure out why everyone in your family tree had weird nicknames that don’t fit their legal names. (Jerome, Jeremiah, and Jeremy were all really Diarmuid. Moses was Moedhog.)

      3. My mother was born on Christmas. Her mother died a few years later so they always celebrated her birthday on her mother’s birthday.

    2. I’ve heard rumors of other people with my name, but I’ve never actually met one, and in all cases it was something they picked, like a stage name sort of deal. I’ve had people look at me funny when I introduce myself, and I assure them, yes, that’s what’s on the birth certificate. No, my parents were not hippies (though the timing is nearly right for that to have been the case [my father maintains that if you can remember the 60s you weren’t there]).

      A co-worker (not someone I’d actually met before, it was a large company) spotted my name on my employee badge while I was topping up my cocoa one morning, and mentioned that he and his wife had a daughter named (insert virtue here). I must not have been very awake yet because my tact filter didn’t have a chance to engage before “That’s a shame. You obviously don’t love her very much.” popped out of my mouth. I backtracked and explained that most people don’t stop and think before naming their kids, or do stop and think, but come to the exact wrong conclusion from that thinking. I also apologized for intimating that he didn’t love his child.

      I firmly believe that you shouldn’t name kids after emotions, virtues, or sports teams. You shouldn’t make phrases out of your children’s names/initials (Wade N. D. Pond, Deerwalks Inthe Forrest).

      1. Naming for virtues is… well, it worked for Puritans who didn’t want to use Hebrew Bible names. But.

        OTOH, virtue names in other languages are less problematic, unless you name your kid things like “Sophrosyne.”

  17. Family name that goes back generations on my mom’s side, but never got past her father: Adolph. From, allegedly, Athaulf, the 2nd king of the Visigoths. So a 5th century Gothic name gets popular in Slavic countries (?! – mom was Czech, with maybe some Polish in there. What are they doing with a more or less German name?), worn with pride by generations – only to have Mustache Guy ruin it.

    Much less fun and funny than Karen and Brandon.

    1. Oh god… We never had kids, but the only name in my family that I share with my husband is “Adolf”. Talk about a non-starter. It’s gonna take another generation or more to sanitize it (if that: not a lot of kids named Attila or Genghis at the moment).

      1. There was a kid in my sixth grade class named Attila.

        As for names given by unthoughtful parents – a girl that I served with in Spain had a childhood friend named Molly.
        The kid’s first name was actually Female – pronounced Femolly. It seems that the friend’s parents were really … not terribly bright, and when Molly was brought to her mother after being delivered, mom saw the name on the bracelet “Female Surname” and assumed that the hospital had taken the liberty of naming the baby.
        Yes, some mothers do have ’em.

        1. Lots of Hungarian guys named Attila! And you know what? Very few people tease them about it. (grin)

          I knew a guy called Adolf, actual name Adolfo. Rumor had it that his middle name was Benito, but apparently this was not true (his middle initial is actually A). Yes, it was an old family name, and yes, his parents stuck with it. And he stuck with it, too. Lots of stubborn in that family.

          He’s a local judge, and he’s happy, but I think his political ambitions would have gone further if he hadn’t been stuck with the name problem. OTOH, nobody local forgets his name or messes with him.

        2. I mentioned that up above. A friend, intaking a patient. Child’s name was Female, pronounced Fa-ma-lee. My friend asked about the name’s origin and the mother says “I dunno. She was called that when they brung her to me.”

          Sad that it happened once. Worse that it might be a pattern.

  18. Now if we start discussing crazy names people give to kids we’ll be here all day. Younger son went to school with someone named Aaereek, pronounced Erik. And in fact the “let’s spell it weirdly to show our creativity” was in full bloom when I had my kids.

    Oh my gosh, if I had a dime for every time someone told me their name was spelled the way it sounded, and then I LOOK at the spelling and wondered how much the parents had been drinking…..

  19. My full name is Paul Stephen Howard.

    And just after I was born, Dad told his boss-at-the-time my name.

    He told Dad that he didn’t like Biblical Names so he’d call me “Stephen”.

    Do I have to tell anybody that Stephen is in the Bible? 😀

    1. My atheist anti-Christian coworker made a big deal over not naming her son anything associated with the Christian faith and then named him Augustine. To be fair, it was a family name. I didn’t tell her.

  20. My husband insisted on naming our daughter after Ellen Ripley. My middle name is Leigh, so I changed the spelling to Ripleigh. Her married last name is very distinct as well, so she is the only person in the U.S. with her name.

  21. So my first name ranks #3 for the decade I was born (Jason) and lets just say since 1980 it’s real easy to get people to remember it…

    “It’s the same as the guy with the hockey mask”

    My middle name was my Grandfathers’ on Dad’s side and is on the unique side (but not in spelling)

  22. Well, all I can say is it might pass.


    Will Pass. That I can guaranty.

    made fun of in kindergarten


    Or longer. Problem is the making fun part probably goes away as time marches on. But what does it do to the kid, longer term? Having a middle name does allow the child to choose. Or they pick their own name. Except the start of EVERY class year, or a teacher that insists on using first name, at least until parental involvement.

    Iris Marie, a classmate, went by Marie.

    Walter McKirdy known as “Kelly”. Nephews and Nieces were named after him, “Kelly” (well one “Kelly” was named after the uncle and great-uncle).

    Alfred John, used John, legal signature until the day he died was A. John Lovelace. His obituary had his full name. Neither his son in law or grandson recognized it because neither KNEW. Mom says “Grandpa won the naming battle, grandma won the war.” All the nephews named after him … John.

  23. One of my sons is named Alain. Because one of my friends from before HS was a French-Canadian named- Alain. Seems that adding that “i” just creates problems for some.

    He and his wife have named my grandchildren creatively-with normal spelling but really old fashioned names. And surprisingly enough, so far, all the names they’ve used were already somewhere in my extended family tree. Some as direct ancestors, but more as distant cousins.

    1. One elementary school teacher gave me grief for “Alan” instead of “Allen” — I was MISSPELLING it!

  24. I was almost Roxanne, which would have made high school absolute Hell for me. As it was I had to explain that my given name wasn’t short for anything, and no, the accent over the “e” isn’t an affectation, and yes, you are pronouncing it wrong, but that’s okay – I’m used to it.

      1. “So it came to me, and they asked what I’d named my son, and I said ‘Robert Anson.’ And they asked how I spelled it, and I explained. There was utter silence in the room, and then someone said ‘Was he named after his grandfather?’ I opened my mouth to explain, closed it, then said ‘Yeah, let’s go with that.'”

        A wery little joke, Captain . . .

  25. My first name came from a close family friend that they met when Dad was posted to Fort Hood. I always go by the full name, but he apparently did not.

    One of the stories was that he was never sent overseas, because he was too valuable as the senior unarmed combat instructor in the boot camp. With a moniker like “Dick Schnott,” the tale is completely believable.

    1. Fellow at the Vo-Tech here I underwent my aircraft mechanic training was named Richard Skinner. And a guy at the airline where I worked was Richard Bachelor.

        1. Indeed there was. She said her folks always wanted her to meet and marry a rich bachelor, so she did.

  26. In a previous life I was a labor \delivery nurse and the stories of strange & awful names are legendary. One interesting fact: if you do not turn a name into public records in the first year ( because the gov’t knowing their name might steal their soul???)(yes, true story), they will issue the birth certificate with “Boy”, or ” Girl” Jones listed as a legal name.
    Alas, despite all my stories, my Poet daughter in law & son gave grandson a”creative name ” that sounds like a burlesque dancer. I can only pray that as he grows, there’s a decent nickname.
    I believe the French have list of “approved names” for Birth Certificates. Call the child anything you want, but legally their name must be normal,and spelled the proper way. Sounds like a good idea to me.

    1. I believe the French have list of “approved names” for Birth Certificates. Call the child anything you want, but legally their name must be normal,and spelled the proper way. Sounds like a good idea to me.

      Mostly that makes this guy:

      ( because the gov’t knowing their name might steal their soul???)(yes, true story)

      sound sane.

    1. We’ve all known this particular bit of knowledge for a while now, but welcome aboard, fellow odd.

  27. My given name is fairly normal, but the nick name I grew up with is almost obsolete. When my daughter was in grade school her little friends started giggling when they found out my name. Some years ago I was given an annual membership in something called Dicks of America. Each year they named a “Dick of the Year”. That year perennial favorite Dick Butkus lost out to John Wayne Bobbit.

  28. I had a student with a Czech first name, Saxon middle name, Hungarian last name. Supposedly I’m the only teacher thus far to pronounce all of them correctly. (Age rather than skill. “Vaclav” was sort of in the news a lot in the late 80s.)

  29. Don’t get me started on names. Pro tip: The Social Security Administration has an annual list of the most common names. Take the top 20 – and strike them from your list. Let the poor tyke have a name of his own, not one shared with a third of the class. And strike all deliberate misspellings. Those merely sentence the poor kid to having to spell his or her name out EVERY time for the rest of his life.

    Nope. Go classical. There are a LOT of perfectly good names out there that aren’t in fashion. Were I to have a daughter, I’d be terribly tempted to use Clio. Or Clarissa.

    1. Also, these days, do a quick web search.

      This will let you know if there’s a TV show that *everyone* will assume you named the kid for.

      (Isabelle was on our list…)

    2. I ganked two different (long) lists of girls’ names from the Internet, merged them together, and removed all the top 20 for each of the last 20 years. Then I printed out two copies, handed one to my then-wife, and we separately whittled them down to about 75 on my list and about 90 on hers. Then I compared them and we had about 20 common, and out of those we picked “Thekla”* (which is the one I wanted in the first place). Her mother picked her middle name — one of her grandmother’s — and if we had had a second child she would have had first dibs on the first name and I would have gotten to choose the middle name.

      My theory is that boys prosper with a strong, masculine, but common name — I’ve never met anyone who complained about their being four other Johns or Andrews in their class — but that women prosper with an uncommon one. My first wife, born in 1969, was always one of six or seven Sarahs in every class, and my second wife, born in 1974, was always one of eight or nine Jennifers, and both of them hated it.

      * (Originally Greek, the “th” is pronounced as in “Thomas”. There are reportedly a lot of little old Eastern European and Scandinavian ladies named “Thekla” and a few Italians and Spanish named “Tecla”, but I’ve only ever met one American.)

      1. I’m guessing that you have left unstated a criteria for female names that would exclude things like Ira Eaker Surname or Simon de Montfort Surname?

    3. Indeed. My wife humored my insistence on names an older generation would have recognized as actual names, and not androgynous ones. We have a Calvin, an Elise, and now a Kathryn just recently. I had no problem borrowing the spelling for the last one from a starship captain, though.

    4. Don’t go too classical, though. One baby name book I saw had names from things like Greek Myth… and with Jocasta and Electra on there, I don’t think they actually read the myths.

    5. My brother in law’s rules were: 1. Not in the top hundred. 2. Not outside the top thousand. 3. One accepted spelling (He has a sister named Caitlyn). There’s an exception, the second boy has a family history name and it took till the fourth boy before my sister convinced him to let her name a son Simon Peter. I suggested the name for the last boy, Dallin Russell mainly so I could call him Dalinar (any other Brandon Sanderson fans here?).

  30. OT: Quick prayer request, for those so inclined. Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle are having a wildfire outbreak, “helped” by 70 MPH winds and very low humidity. Kind thoughts for the folks evacuating and those fighting the fires would be appreciated. I’m south of the worst in this area, but I know folks who are evacuating.

    1. Prayer issued.

      Wildfire is scary. Hoping everyone gets themselves and their animals out safely and unharmed.

      Is the origins of the fires suspect? Or weather related.

      1. Very possibly weather conditions.

        Both states have universities, and so do have some residents of the lunatic variety. Issue, a lot of the lunatics may spend a lot of time in town, and not go out much to where the fires all. Additionally, it is not clear that the lunatics have the sense to figure out when conditions are favorable.

        That side of the Great Plains is frequently pretty dry. It can also be pretty windy. There’s been previous weather this season favorable to fires, that I hadn’t heard of starting any.

        I suppose I should check out some of the fire tracking websites, see if the previous weather matched to any fires.

        I don’t know about any conveniently timed t-storms, if that is what you are asking, but I’m pretty oblivious.

        1. With the wind and dryness, power lines and transformers can do a lot of damage. 70+ mph winds could down a lot of power poles, with catastrophic results.

          We got a lot of arson wildfires in 2020; the organized crazies (cough Antifa cough) have sufficient resources to tell them a lot. Mercifully, they missed enough key information so that their goals were not met–they did not isolate Eastern Oregon from the west. I don’t think that would punish Eastside as much as they thought, though… Might have made Portlandia even more of a hellhole if they succeeded.

          FWIW, I found wildfiretoday dot com to be useful for the huge west coast fires.

        2. Locally t-storms fires can be delayed. I know they were sniffing around for the artificial cause of the 2003 fire starting in wilderness south side of hwy 126. Only to find the source was a smoldering fire from a lightening strike from the week before. Storm blew through Tuesday night, high winds, few rain drops. Very memorable night. Flash/Crash, Thump, Zip … Translation. Flash/Crash = Lightening. Thump = Something hitting the ground, never found anything. Zip = one of us, 3 scout leaders, unzipping tent to check to ensure Thump wasn’t at least where we could see in the dark. ALL NIGHT. Trip ended Sunday. Fire blew up Monday. Including whipping through most of the northern section of the trek. One of the reasons lightening strikes are investigated ASAP, or should be. Even if anymore some areas have a “let burn policy”.

          1. We worked a fire over a dozen years ago that had been started several weeks beforehand, and was smoldering in duff. The Bootleg fire (400,000 acres) was declared to be a delayed lightning start, a week old, if I have it right. Between dry soils and duff, you can get some nasty delayed surprises.

            That one took off quickly when it got going for good. I think it hit 7000 acres the first day, and was the first time I saw pyrocumulus cloud formation. Not fun when it was 8 miles from our place (the fire never got closer, thanks to God and the fire crews).

            1. Yes. I know about smoldering fires. Like I said, I don’t know how it is handled now, but mid/late-’70s even the non-fire crews knew to come in early when an impending lightening storm was incoming. You could feel the hair on your neck stand up. It was a regular occurrence. Partly safety. But also because they’d dispatch pairs to points to help the fire towers with sighting lighting ground strikes. That would be checked out by the district fire crews for signs of smoldering. Otherwise smoke sightings had small crews dispatched immediately, fire crews until ran out of them, then the rest of the crews. Same area has had, a lot more recently (2020/2021, and before), some big fires, not related to any “let it burn” policies. Area is just as fire prone now as it was 50 years ago. Specifically South Umpqua. But North Umpqua, and other districts, and national forests, have been affected by the same changes in policies.

              What I didn’t like about it. Hwy 126 fire (could not find official fire name) in 2003, what was “concerning” was 12 of us, 3 adults, and 9, 12 – 17 year olds, were tent camping and backpacking, when the fire “started”, and where it ultimately roared through, not just through underbrush. I’ve been on timber fire lines, but not big fires, but I’ve been on them (by then almost 30 years prior). I don’t need much imagination to fill in the gaps of “what if”. Not the least of which, of all 3 adults, it would have been left to me. The other two adults, one would have been worthless, no wilderness experience, less than 1/3 the scouts with us (plus other reasons). The other, she too had a lot of backpacking wilderness experience, more experience than I did for medical issues, but zero wilderness wild land fire. Yes, could rely on her and the older scouts, but … Thank God I didn’t have to learn whether or not I could have stepped up enough to keep everyone safe and alive. I’d had a lot less what-if-anxiety if either the scoutmaster (military service), or hubby (had been on big fires in ’70s), had been on the trek. Based on where we were actually at, in the ultimate fire perimeter, north of hwy 126, an area burned after fire jumped the highway, appropriate authorities would have located us and had us evacuated safely, by alternative route or helicopter (we did file the appropriate trail head permits but we were north of there, the BSA council permits had been filed, the scoutmaster and hubby knew where we, in general, were suppose to be). But …. dang imagination.

      2. Probably weather, though it might also be an idiot flicking a cigarette butt out of their car window. We get a lot of that kind of fire when it’s dry. Though usually they don’t tend to get very big. But the panhandle is pretty much miles and miles of miles and miles, and very dry scrubby miles and miles at that. Doesn’t take much to get it going.

      3. Power-lines breaking and sparking seems to have caused all the ones today, and last week. Train brakes, and less commonly, dragging trailer chains or people parking on dry grass are the other usual causes. I know of two that were people welding (!) in grass without spark-catchers or other things. One of those gents got, ahem, remonstrated with by the neighbors, once the fire was out.

          1. Righteous. All I ever did was a set a trash can on fire with mine. 25 years later, my wife still brings that up occasionally.

        1. Oh. Goody. Based on CA and power line fires, lawsuit time?

          I’m waiting for the power people to go … “OH Heck No. You want power? Make it yourself.”

          Locally, even with “clean” power line corridors, it isn’t like the ground is sterile. The lines can still spark fires in the vegetation under them. Trees to the side big enough for wind to take them out. Not sure how easy it is to route around different paths. Then there is the “but need power to run water to protect, even as we evacuate”.

          1. California’s powerline fires seem to be a combination of (lack of) maintainence of the equipment and the notion that not a single bit of brush or trees can be cut. The Camp fire that destroyed Paradise was a big example of that. My MIL lived there, and I got nervous every time I saw the overgrown areas all around town. When she passed away, a neighbor bought her old home. It’s now a vacant lot because of the fire.

            The neighbor’s own place did OK, because the outer walls were concrete block to 3′ above ground level. One other house on that block had the same detail, and those two were among the only three that survived. The last one just got lucky–until a bunch of drought weakened trees fell over on it last summer. Murphy wins again.

          2. No, not around here. The power companies do all that they can, including using line spacers, but when it’s gusting to 90 MPH . . .

            1. Can’t do that in CA; they’re banning portable generators.


              How about stationary bicycles hooked up to alternators? 😀

              Just think how much power we could get out of all those pedaling yuppies! Exercise centers would become the New Green Electric Plants.

              Though I’m sure ‘environmental activists’ would find some objection to the scheme.

              I have proposed sentencing prisoners to electricity generated, rather than time served. I figure that by diligent pedaling each prisoner could generate 8 to 10 kilowatt-hours a week. A megawatt-hour would be about equivalent to a 2-year sentence.

              Judge [bangs gavel] “Five megawatt-hours. Next case.”

              voter fraud will not even be investigated where there is a Soros DA, per the Texas Supreme Court.


              But, courts do not have jurisdiction over elections, per Article 2 of the United States Constitution. Only the state legislatures.

              Of course, violating the Constitution seems to be in fashion these days…
              ———————————
              “Soylent Green is…people!”

              1. 1. This is Texas Supreme court, not US.
                2. What the justices have said is that the legislature can pass all the laws it likes, but it can’t compel the elected local DA to stop using “prosecutorial discretion” not to prosecute the lawbreakers, and the Texas State AG can’t file charges independently.

                If a law can be broken with impunity, it isn’t a law.

              2. If lawyers and judges collude to deny access to the courts, they lose many of their grounds for moral objection to extrajudicial executions.

                No doubt that they will ‘rediscover’ some legal principle that restrains denying access when it comes to disputes over the killing of a human being.

                In all due fairness and charity, that consent decree has prevented Republicans from bringing suit over election fraud, so the recent jurisprudence is pretty thin, and the precedent that exists is open to reconciliation with recent precedent in other areas.

                The strikes against this are suits being brought on behalf of Democrat candidates by the DoJ Civil Liberties lawyers, under a theory of addressing racial discrimination, and that legal faculty have incidentally raised the possibility that recent precedent is a result of industry wide fraud and collusion.

            2. Since the Texas court cited a Texas statue, expect the legislature to fix this quickly. Wouldn’t be surprised if there is a special session devoted to it. The Democrats don’t have enough votes to stop a change in Texas right now.

              1. They also cited the “separation of powers” clause in the state constitution. That’s going to require passing and then ratifying an amendment — when there are no laws against vote fraud in the most populous cities and counties of Texas.

        2. In Utah we sometimes have fires caused by target shooting. My support for second amendment goes to “repeal the NFA” but I wish people would be more careful.

          1. We had a “small” one like that this summer. (1000 acres?) The idiot was using Tannerite explosive targets (illegal to use in fire season). OTOH, he got caught and has the bill on his account. I hate Tannerite.

            It’s been a hell of a fire season when 1000 acres seems like a small fire.

              1. True that. It didn’t help that my first closeup exposure to Tannerite was from my late idiot neighbor, who was using such targets for his 70th birthday celebration. Scared hell out of our year-old border collie. He did this in July, in fire season, with exploding targets specifically prohibited. I had a quiet word with the Forest Service, but he wasn’t quite stupid enough to repeat the stunt the next day when they were listening for him.

                Let’s just say that the mourning in town when he passed was quite muted.

                For plinking, I prefer tin cans. I don’t need booming targets. To each his own.

    2. Thanks for the prayers and kind thoughts. Things are settling down, and my friends who had to flee were able to go back. They lost some fence but no animals or people.

    3. Yikes! Prayers loaded.

      Summer was far too interesting for us, but now winter is making its appearance.

      I hope they can get extra firefighters. The PNW crews tend to be seasonal, though IIRC, Florida should be getting prepared for a wildfire season about now.

  31. Back in the paleolithic, I worked as an insurance underwriter. We had a bullpen of desks where we reviewed car insurance applications. We played this game: someone would call out a name from the application they were reviewing, and the other underwriters would call out a year, e.g., “Rose” “1936!” “1972!” After everyone had made their guesses, the person who called out the name gave the actual birth year from the app, and whoever got closest ‘won’.

    A Jennifer who was not born around 1970, or a Susan around 1960, was a stumper, as was an Agnes born more recently than maybe 1935. Boys names were much harder.

    It was fun.

    1. My mother (born early 1920s) was named Margie, and caught hell from teachers demanding her “real” name. Her younger sister got a more conventional name, but the youngest (born mid ’30s) got a little closer to trouble with “Betty”.

      1. A friend’s first and middle names are “Don” and “Steve”. Which has caused him a lifetime of hassle from clerks and bureaucrats who insist on ‘correcting’ them to “Donald” and “Stephen.”

        1. Mom had to uncorrect against Marjorie. Her middle name was already Margaret. (Grampa wanted a classic, old fashioned name, Grandma was a bit of a flapper, so the resolution was creative.)

          Her kid sister was Betty June. Perhaps a bit unusual for a girl born in Chicago.

  32. My name was picked at random by my mom and my middle name is my grandfather’s middle name. I hated it growing up because it was a boys name. I like it now, but I get asked if it’s my maiden name (I didn’t take my husband’s name). The moving van driver told me he liked my name because it was so straightforward. That was a first.

    1. My middle name is a feminine version of my grandfather’s name, though I’ve seen it spelled that way a few times on actual males. I used it as my “last” name when I was on the radio, because my maiden name didn’t flow as nicely.

  33. There was a guy on the LDS Youth speaker circuit whose last name was Bytheway. Pronounced “by the way”. He’d spend the first part of every presentation talking about his last name. According to him, some of his ancestors used to live near a road (or way).

    He said a ticket agent at the airport once jokingly asked him if he had a son named ‘Owen’.

  34. My first wife went to Catholic grade school with a boy named “Aragorn Boromir Celeborn Dean”, so not only did the poor kid have to suffer with a hippie name, his initials were ABCD. (Interesting that my spellcheck only red-underlines “Celeborn” in that name…)

    My college roommate, Jan Wybesse Stiles Spoor (Dutch roots, obvs, even though they were Tidewater Virginians of the Episcopalian persuasion), was going to be named Alexander Stiles Spoor until his mother pointed out that anything he got monogrammed would read “ASS”.

    My mother was never given a middle name, so on school forms and whatnot where they insisted on something she would write “none”, and then get correspondence to “Shirley None H——”. Likewise, my dad’s letterhead used to read “Lum L——, Geologist”, and he would get correspondence addressed “Dear Mr. Geologist”.

    1. My Grandfather Howard wasn’t given a middle name and when he joined the Army (for WW1) the Army gave him an X for his middle initial. So he became Ralph X Howard.

      My Grandparents named my father Ralph X Howard Jr. Oh, a Black gentleman who knew Dad jokingly call Dad “Malcom” (after Malcom X). 😉

      Oh, my parents thought about naming me Ralph X Howard III but decided not to because of the problem of what to call me growing up. Dad was Ralph Jr, but they didn’t think much of calling me “Ralph 3”. Of course, if Dad had an actual middle name, they could have used the middle name to refer to me.

      Oh, I had enough problems with teasing as it was that I’m glad they passed on “Ralph 3” or “Ralph the Third”. 😀

  35. We’re Eastern Orthodox, which means both daughters are named after saints (thankfully there’s 2000 years and several continents’ worth to pick from!). We chose pretty but not-unusual first names, and reserved the more interesting ones (Xenia and Irais) for the middle ones. Also picked first names that could be shortened in any of several ways, just to make sure the girls have plenty of options. I’m curious to see what they choose to go by as they get older.

    I have my father’s nice, common, apostolic name, so I’ve only ever had to worry about people (constantly) mispronouncing the family name, which is Finnish by way of a few centuries in East Prussia. So it goes 🙂

  36. Huh. Odd.

    The Democrats in California just exempted San Francisco from the new state-wide indoor mask mandate that went into effect today.

    Strange.

    Also, nearly all of the important politicians in the state of California reside in San Francisco.

    What an odd coincidence.

      1. Transdimensional book clubs! Never miss a story. (Are there enough dimensions to actually have some version of you actually having read everything across the lot?)

        1. Of course, more dimensions means more books, and more variations on each book. Would there be enough of you to keep up?

  37. My first name is very long and uncommon, but well-known enough that people don’t have problems saying it. I have come across a few other holders of the name, and the most memorable is one whose last name is Austin. I met her first at a Girl Scout camp and most recently at a BSA adult leader training. We are buddies!

  38. A colleague did a name change at age 18 for a young lady who thought that her name was “Rose”, only to find out, on getting a copy of her birth certificate for a driver’s license, that her name was “Female Xxxx”. We thought that it should have been pronounced “Femaalae”.
    He did another for a Mideastern couple who at last decided that their son should not start school with the name “Usaama Jihad Xx’Xxx”.
    John in Indy

  39. Had friends. The wife’s maiden name was Rose. Her parents had considered naming her Wild. So Wild Rose. Not too bad.
    She married a man named Pigg. What might have been.

  40. My name is Arwen Elizabeth Riddle. It sounds like something out of a Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter crossover fanfic. The Tolkien was intentional and I’ve always gone by Arwen but I appreciated my parents giving me Elizabeth as a middle name. My two older sisters don’t have middle names but the two younger do. Yes, I have a brother named Tom. He graduated high school in 2006.

  41. If we were winning the culture war, you wouldn’t have college students not only celebrating the 9/11 attacks, but ACTIVELY VOLUNTEERING FOR THE NEXT TERRORIST ATTACK. This is not a joke. I forget where I saw the article, but IIRC, a politically conservative prankster was asking them questions about it without revealing who he was. They were openly saying that they would help the attack.

    1. If your definition of “winning the culture war” requires that college students never be freaking morons, it’s an automatic loss.

      1. They have always been stupid. They have not always been evil. This isn’t about”racism” or whatever the catch phrase of the day is. It is about getting revenge on a society that doesn’t give them a free ride.

        1. They have always been stupid. They have not always been evil.

          That is where you are wrong, if you are defining “being evil” as “voicing support of something that causes objective harm when reasoned consideration of the available information would make it clear that is a bad idea.”

          Since that is the only evidence you have offered….

      2. Yep.

        Everyone deserves the opportunity to be stupid, as long as they aren’t forcing the rest of us to pay for it.

  42. My parents were very careful with names, deliberately selecting those that had no immediate nicknames. Other than nicknames someone chose (my sister refused to answer to her name at one point and the nickname she chose stuck by default) the worst we had was a shortened version.

    Mom was also partial to historical family names. I have never met anyone with my name, and the name seems only to be used for villains in literature.

    On the other hand, I desperately needed a pseudonym when I started writing because no one can pronounce my name and no one can spell it.

    1. Once I started writing I regretted not having changed my maiden name. As is, it’s rather common. If I’d used my husband’s name, it would have been unique in the US (and maybe the world). OTOH, I’d have to keep spelling it for people…

  43. I can’t help it. These days “Karen and Brandon got married…” sounds like the beginning of a joke in which the punch line is “And that kid was UGLY!!
    ———————————
    “Doomsday and Armageddon had a baby and it is ugly.

  44. I have always been grateful to my parents that they refused my father’s parents insistence that I be given the traditional family name “Hornsby”. I have a female cousin on my mother’s side named Kelly Green. And my best friend from high school, with the last name of Wise, named his son Guy. So the poor kids applications are always filled out “Wise Guy”.

  45. My dad’s side of the family had a tradition that ran for about five or six generations: a son would be given his father’s first name as his middle name. My mother ended that by selecting the name she wanted. Granted, it did have a smoother roll off the tongue. I would not have objected, though.

    Both my and my wife’s family sometimes took input from siblings of the newborn. My sister’s middle name is Buffie because I liked watching Family Affair (fortunately, she didn’t mind). My wife’s mother named her cousin.

  46. Oh, and about confirmation names… I have one sibling (middle brother was stillborn), so I come from a small immediate family (though I have tons of cousins, due to ancestors in large families). My future wife was Catholic. Her siblings had first names, middle names (upon christening), and nicknames (usually shortened or diminutive forms of the regular names, or even initials of first name + last name). She bounced around, using ALL OF THEM. I thought she had a fifteen or more siblings. When her family came to town where we were in university, to meet me, I was expecting this absolute horde of folks, so I was a little nervous. Found out she “only” had FIVE siblings, and one was out of state…I was a little relieved. I blurted out, “I thought there were a whole lot more of you!” and rattled off all the names I had heard, then everyone figured it out, and we all had a great laugh. 30 years later, we still get a good chuckle out of that.

    1. or even initials

      Re: initials — is it still a thing in the South to refer to boys by their initials and girls by their first & middle names? My dad and aunt were born in Arkansas in 1927 & 1929, and he was always “L.C.” and she was always “Joyce June”. Pop told me that was standard practice.

      1. Yup, a lot of the time. I have a first cousin whose nickname is “TopCat” from the old cartoon. Everyone calls him TC. 🙂

  47. A name I recall reading about years ago has stuck with me. It’s a “creative” name.

    I’ll present it element by element and let readers assemble the pieces in the privacy of their own homes.

    Three syllables.
    First syllable “SHI” (pronounced “Shee”)
    Second syllable “THE” (pronounced “Tay”)
    Third syllable “AD” (pronounced “Add”)
    So it was to be pronounced “Shee-TAY-add”.

  48. And I have an aunt Karen who’s a wonderful person, and a skilled counselor with her church. She helped my mom get through the death of her husband a year ago.

  49. Heh, fun subject… I’ve only known a few women actually named Karen and the two I can think of offhand were reserved but nice. Most Brandons I know, by contrast, have always come off as a bit cocky and could be a pain because of it but for the most part aren’t bad either. My biggest name problems have been always going by my middle instead of my first, which leads to fun on job applications and such (King Harv knows me by said first name instead of the one you and a few Huns here know) and having a common first name as my last name. That leads to fun mixups and has always made my name as a whole feel awkward. For any hypothetical future kids (still feels like a longshot, but less of one than it did), I do know I want to work my mom’s first or middle name into it, even if the middle is a bit old lady-ish (and possibly her first), and no clue on any boy’s names though I’ll be keeping this post and common sense in mind however it might shake out!

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