Saturday, August 20, 2011

CARE – EEE! The Creative Naming Dilemma

I’m all for individual expression and creativity.  Just don’t make me pronounce it or spell it in an email.  When faced with the wildly original stabs at phonics that pass for naming many of my fellow human beings, I turn into a stiff-backed wing nut, spewing out exhortations for things like a Return to Discipline and Uncompromising Standards.

Here’s my reasoning – names are something given to babies, and babies grow into children, and here is what children want to do – blend in. Being a kid is hard enough.  If you’ve already got genetically dispensed unfortunate looks, or a last name that’s the same  as the horribly smelly character on a popular tv show – well, then, you don’t really need a first name that requires its own pronunciation guide for the first day of school.  The thing most parents won’t acknowledge is that they’re going to be providing a steady stream of misery to their children for the rest of their lives.  Does the suffering really have to start on the day that the Birth Certificate gets completed?

So, while I am a “whatever floats your boat” proponent for most human activities, I am a staunch supporter of Old Fashioned Values when it comes to naming. As a long-time volunteer at the Crisis Nursery, I’ve encountered some real doozies. Purpess, Jurnee and Promiss, for example, are some very small children with some very awful names that they most certainly don’t deserve. 

I’ve gotten over my initial despair at how someone whose idiot parent named her “Neveah” (Heaven spelled backwards, natch) could ever succeed in life.  Whenever I hold one of these sweet innocents, I just tell myself, “Think of Oprah,” and imagine thousands of middle-aged women bowing at the poorly named child's feet.  It’s not the long-term future that worries me for these kids.  It’s second grade. 

And then there is the spelling issue.  I’ve noticed more and more that the very people whose names are not easily spelled correctly are the ones who get most upset at any deviation from the “three Es in a row, the middle one capitalized” that their name requires.  I want to spell everything correctly, really I do.  But, just in my own circle of acquaintances with the moniker of  "Carrie," (spelled the Stephen King way), I know a Kari, a Cary, a Kerie, a Kerry and a Carri. (The only variant that hasn’t appeared so far is “Carry,” as in “Cash and …,” I suppose for obvious reasons). This is too much for my brain to compute, even on a good day.  

My one-plank presidential platform of the Universal Permission Slip might need to be expanded to include a 20-name list, standardized spelling, from which every family must choose a name. Given our recent successes with the budget, this one should be a slam dunk – oh, right.  Perhaps I’ll need to rethink my philosophy, just a bit.

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