Giff¹ and I have been talking a lot about baby names, not because we are expecting², but just because circumstances have raised the issue a couple of times. Our differing opinions on the issue lead me to believe that if we ever wind up having a child, we should spend quite a bit of time discussing what we will name s/he before the baby is born.
¹Not her real name, obviously
²Well, we are expecting there to be a child, just not ours. A friend of Giff's is about 8.5 months pregnant.
We actually have gone through this process a couple of times, having adopted two cats together off the street, one of whom happened to be pregant with two kittens. So in our three years together, we've had to name four different creatures. With the stray cats, our naming policy went basically the same way: we brought the cats home, and spent the next week or two spontaneously trying out different names on the cat, until eventually we found out one that fit, more or less³. Eventually, after sneaking up on it from different angles, we were able to find suitable names for both Buster and Lulu.
³This is essentially the tactic used by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the play [Eponymous] are Dead when they are having trouble figuring out which one is which, like everyone else in Hamlet and in their own play. Our attempts were slightly more successful and didn't result in our cats dying at the end.⁴
⁴OMG Spoiler alert!
For some reason, I feel that this would be less successful with a child, as a) I feel children take a lot longer than stray cats to form personalities suitable for name finding, and b) hospitals and government tend to force you to come up with a name at an earlier date. I suppose we would get 7-9 months⁵ of discussion time with the growing baby belly, but something about that seems rather unsatisfying and not very successful.
⁵Counting time that we would be unaware of the baby's existence, and subtracting the possibility that the baby would be early, like I was.
On the plus side, both Giff and I concurred that neither of us are fans of names that are also words: Joy, Charity, Hope, Faith, Destiny, Constance, Summer, Spring, Autumn, etc.⁶ There is some hope for us, at least. Or at least a place to start. And we say this having known good people by Word Names.
⁶Including my least favorite name ever: A girl I went to college with, named Sharin'. Fuller name: Sharin' Faith. She was about as much of a glassy-eyed Jesus Freak as you can imagine with that name, no offense to glassy-eyed Jesus Freaks.
Probably the biggest problem Giff and I have is that we have a completely different starting point when it comes to naming a child. I, for instance, am largely concerned with not giving a child a name that's going to get them teased as a child growing up. I think that any name you intend to give a child should be run past a particularly cruel 8-year old to see what they can come up with. Some parents can be so inadvertantly cruel. My music teacher back in Junior High was named "Gaylord Fagerland,"⁷ for instance. You can nickname my theory for naming children the "Boy Named Sue" theory, except most of us aren't as badass as Cash/Silverstein would like us to be. Giff's point, which I think is reasonable, is that children are likely to be cruel no matter what, and so that, while the name might in fact be the vehicle for mockery, it won't be the cause. Regardless, as someone who was mocked in their childhood despite having a relatively vanilla name, I think that it's important to give your child as many advantages and as few disadvantages as possible.
Giff, on the other hand, thinks it's important to give a child a relatively unique name. A name that, while recognizeable as a name, isn't a vanilla name that half the people in their grade are going to have. Which I can also agree with, to a point. I grew up with an extremely common name (second most common name for boys the year I was born), which lead to me being known by a series of nicknames that, until they settled on my current nickname, kind of sucked. I'm not going to get into that here. Anyway, Giff believes that a slightly exotic name that's not boring is the way to go.
Our naming strategies are not necessarily in conflict. At least they don't contradict each other. I do think they probably reflect that our childhoods were quite different; we seem to be trying to avoid completely different disfunctions for our potential children.⁸ Hopefully, that will wind up being a plus if we ever wind up having to put this to a test.
⁸If nothing else, they demonstrate that I was much more of a loser while growing up than Giff, something that probably continues to be true.