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.