Savage Love Letters of the Day: What's In a Name?

Comments

1
Required viewing for prospective parents.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xblh12Xg…
2
If you had never had kids this would not have happened….
3
What's wrong with Morpheus? It's a lovely name, and you could have always used Sandy (short for Sandman) as a knickname. Plus it recalls the greatest band in music history, Morphine.
4
jesus horatio christ...the kid is EIGHT and she's going on and on about this?

LW is playing a shitty passive aggressive game with her husband (although he doesn't seem to know it), and trying to get the kid to side with her on a decision she agreed to years ago but regrets. That's super crappy. If the kid ends up having issues later, it's more likely going to be because of these mind games rather than his name, which seems to be fine with everyone except Mom.
6
Lucifer's a helluva name.
7
I gave my kid the wrong name (had only given deep thought to girl names, felt pressured at the birth center to pick something before we left), but thankfully realized it sooner rather than later and had it legally changed when he was 8 months old.
8
I wouldn't go with Morpheus, because of the unfortunate Matrix connections.

Benvolio sounds like an awesome name, though. If he ever didn't like it, he could just introduce himself as Ben.
9
@6: I see what you did there. Don't sleep on Morpheus.
10
Ehhhhhh there's enough "manly" Williams, Roberts, Michaels, Justins, and jeffs running around. Embrace the uncommon name. Your son certainly is.
11
10 years ago, I saw a birth announcement in our local, rural, small-town newspaper for "James Tiberius Kirk Weldy". What I really wanted to know was if BOTH parents were trekkies or if the other would be pissed when they found out. Later, a reporter who'd interviewed them confirmed that, yes, both were serious, long-time Star Trek fans.
12
The name Beyonce must have sounded silly to everyone in her kindergarten class, but she's now queen of the world, so who knows?

Not that I'm advocating giving your child a ridiculous name. Some people really go too far. Isn't that right, Jermajesty?
13
Titus Andronicus?
14
This whole thing is beyond stupid but I guess you could just call him by the first syllable Mal, Cal, Ant, Cass, Ro, whatever.
And I'm not that knowledgeable on the subject but isn't Grisha a pretty common Russian name? That's like saying no one should even name their kid Beth cause that one girl in Little Women dies.
15
Hmmm. Should I have added a *spoiler alert*?
16
Yeah, I just looked it up, Grisha is basically Greg in Russian so not exactly exclusive to one character.
17
Since you mentioned Benvolio, you'd better throw in Mercutio. My girlfriend and I used to read their dialogue from R&J in these Kermit the Frog voices...because we were high-school freshmen and that's how we nerdy kids rolled, back in the early '80s. OHNO, take the lead from your super-chill kid, and all will be well.
18
Maybe it's this and she's got a legitimate gripe:

Abhorson is an executioner in Measure for Measure.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_…–K)

19
@18

URL got cut because it has a dash. Just Google "list of Shakespeare characters."
20
Recalling my own childhood days - if your kid's greatest childhood trauma is his unusual given name, he's on a veritable cruise ship compared to many of us at that age. I tend to agree with Genevieve @4 that your anguish is more about suppressed anger at your husband and your joint (?) decision-making process in your son's naming, than it is about the kid's actual name. (My money's on Othello.) Hence the "secret" name that was your own first choice, the alternate name that your child tolerates only because you are his mama, and he loves you, and he knows how much you love to call him by that name. A warning, though - his loving tolerance is not likely to survive the stormy seas of adolescence. Best for you to start now to learn to love the name you agreed, for whatever reasons at the time, to put on his birth certificate. You can't always get what you want, and if your kid decides to change his name in the future, that should be his choice, not yours.
21
LW, you've got to get a grip on why you're still scratching at this, because there's objectively not a problem here, right? Are you pissed about the name as a displacement from actually being pissed about the process you and your husband got to the name?
22
@ 18 - But it's not an actual Italian name, is it?
23
LW, I agree with the others - you're seething because you lost the name game to your husband. Quit obsessing over it because your son will become more resistant to changing if he thinks someone wants him to change. Call him by his name or call him an endearment. Then wait until your son is mocked for his ridiculous name and comes home pleading to change it. Be ready to quickly file the paperwork as soon as he makes the request. What if he never feels any shame about his name? Then his name isn't as fucking bad as you think it is!
24
With the sign-off she chose, I am betting she named the kid Othello. Just call him Otto and relax, lady.
25
@22

Dunno, but isn't that play set in Italy? Or what's Italy today, anyway.
26
"You can call me that, but it's not my name."

I'll translate that for you: "My name is my name, and you seem to be the only one here invalidating it. You're the one telling me my name sucks and is wrong and I should be called something else. Thanks for siding with the bullies, bitch - I mean, "Mom." I'll call you that... "Mom" ... but you should be called something else."
27
First world problems
28
@ 25 - The LW says: "We gave him a stupid name. It's too unusual. It's from Shakespeare, and it's Italian (my ancestry)"

It doesn't matter where the play is set. Since she's from Italian ancestry, I doubt she'd choose a name that Shakespeare made up and call it Italian.
29
And this little toss-off line: "I let go this opportunity, agreed to the one other name we both thought was okay, and I have regretted it ever since."

Let's see that again in super-slo-mo: "I let go this opportunity, agreed to the one other name WE BOTH THOUGHT WAS OKAY, and I have regretted it ever since."

So, your husband hated the things YOU thought were super cool, and you hated the things HE thought were super cool. But naturally we are to just accept that you are the one with better taste, and therefore HE's the one who let your son down, even though the name the two of you settled on is actually in the middle, "the one other name we both thought was okay."
30
@28

Anyway, Measure for Measure is actually set in Vienna, not Verona or Venice. :(
31
One last thought and I will shut up on this topic: You have no idea how much contempt can be made to drip from even the simplest, one-syllable, common, WASP name. I do. You may think you are sparing him from being tortured by erasing your mistake, but you clearly have no idea. I can tell you from experience that the little shit-throwing troglodytes will seize on anything, and the difference between Benvolio and Scott isn't even going to slow them up.

And in the meantime, as I mentioned earlier, you are unintentionally being a name-bully yourself.
32
I'm with Jack from '30 Rock' on this. "Stick to Kings and Queens of England."
33
LW, if your son is happy with his name, there is no problem.
And this private name between you, while a boy under twelve allows such a charged situation to occur, because he's not so fussed by all the adult drama, get ready for him to throw that off once he becomes a young man.
I suggest you drop the whole thing. Price of equality. Sometimes the dads get to pick the kid's name.
34
There's a little kid in Capitol Hill named Archimedes. I know this because I heard his mom say "Archimedes, stop sitting in the mud."
35
I'll say this kids aren't objects or pets. Stop treating them like they are. You aren't naming an animal that doesn't care and won't have to hand out business cars, you aren't naming an object, which is an object. You are naming a person who will have to use the name on applications, dates, and tax forms.

Don't make it about how 'cool' it is. Coolness is fickle. Make it name that you like that they can use.

And I agree I think you want to be angry at your husband but let this go and stop dragging your kid into your secret war.
36
@34 Kuda - actually, you heard her call him by his secret pet name :)

Bad bad dynamic here between mom and dad - that's gonna cause young Mercutio more trouble than his name. Forsooth, take a page from Juliet's book - "...a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
37
He likes his name. If he changes his mind, he can pick a nickname he likes. This is SO a non-issue.
38
@20 & @24:
Othello might be regrettable, but husband's penchant for the darkside suggests they might've "settled" on Iago. Which would be pretty horrid on several levels.
39
Ooof, I'm glad at least that Lucifer got nixed in favor of something from Shakespeare.

I was a kid with a weird name, and now I'm an adult with that weird name. I hated having to spell it for everyone, and pronounce it for everyone, and never being able to have anything with my name already on it, but nowadays everyone has to carefully spell and pronounce their perfectly normal names for everyone because you can never tell if Tiphane is just how their parents decided to spell Tiffany.

Once I got past the age of twelve or so I was accustomed enough to my name that it was a part of me, and that's when it started becoming a cool thing. No one else had my name, but it was technically biblical so every so often I'd encounter someone who'd met someone who'd had it. Practically no one had any associations with it, there was no "oh, I knew a girl named Melissa, she was a total asshole". Now that I'm an adult it means that others remember me more than I remember them, which is occasionally slightly embarrassing but still a net positive for me, and an unusual name means no one will have to slog through the research papers of five others to find mine, so it's a career benefit.

By going Shakespearean you've given him a name that no one he encounters will have - he won't be Jennifer R of the three Jennifers in his class. But you've also given him a name that a number of people will have a passing familiarity with, which gives them a conversation starter and gives him something to bond over with new friends.

Also, he considers it his name. Stop putting him in the middle of this fight already, he's being too mature for his age with his response and that's worrying. How much do you make him privy to conflicts between you and your husband? Find someone else to hash out this and any other disagreements you have lingering between you and your spouse, preferably a professional, and let your kid be a kid. With his weird name. Sounds like he's grown into it already.
40
@32: Good point. I hear no kid in the schoolyard ever messes with little Aethelred.
41
This whole thing just made me think of Monkey Dust:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WXM_qCJ…

Unfortunately I couldn't find a sketch from an earlier episode, where Othello's pretentious parents are discussing potential baby names (with the running commentary from the baby).
42
I wonder how OHNO would feel if they'd named their son Jacob, Anthony or Ryan only to have him come home from school saying he wishes he'd been named Yurem, Abdiel or Bridger. It seems to me that for every child with an unusual name who wishes he had a normal one, there's a child with an ordinary name who wishes he was called something cool.

This letter makes me wonder what it's really about. It seems like a straightforward thing, but it has me wondering if the not all that unconventional husband really was thinking of his kid as a pet as msanon suggests. I wonder this attitude of not taking the child as a serious human in his own right is showing up in other aspects of the husband's parenting.
43
I was a part time guardian to a kid who has a REALLY stupid name. It's so stupid, that the kid is the only person in the world with this name. The name is hyphenated words, and not words that are ever used as names like Grace or something normal. I won't share it here, but it's like if you named your kid Laser-Shooting-TRex only worse because it's also something stupid and pretentious. I've known this kid for a decade now, and so the name has become just a name to me, but I remember it took weeks to get used to calling this kid that when we first met. And every single time this kid ever meets anyone, they do a double take. I can't tell you how many adults have commented on it to me when the kid and kid's family are not around. Like, open house, first day of school, signing up for extra curricular stuff- every single time people ask if that is really the name- they aren't being rude, it's just disbelief that someone would name their kid this, like they are on candid camera. The kid is great so people are nice about it to the kid's face, and I really believe the kid rises above the name. But the mother who chose it- people mark her as either immature or idiotic. The kid's name is a reputation that precedes her forever. The kid's middle name is odd too, but not as bad. One day, I suspect the kid will change the name. A shortened version could work. I think it's going to get harder in the adult world- dating, resumes, etc.

Naming your kid James Tiberius Kirk LastName is fine - if both parents are trekkies, chances are the kid will be too. Plus unless you know the two middle names, you'd never know the kid was named in a fandom. The kid can choose to put that or not on resumes and business cards, etc. Naming your kid Batman would be weird, but James is just a name.

I agree, generally, with the consensus that it doesn't matter so much anymore.Also that this mother is freaking out over nothing, especially since the kid is happy. Iago or Othello or Balthasar or whatever- they're just names. Elementary classes are so diverse now that a kid with those names won't stand out anymore than the loads of Maximilianos, Jeronimos, Ulises, Arnavs, Ishaans, Malachis, etc. The kids haven't read Shakespeare. They'll just hear another multi-syllabic nonWASP name, but this is so common place that it won't stand out anymore. Unless you live in some really WASPy area I guess.
44
Just leave poor little Shylock alone. No one really cares about someone's name anyway. Eventually it just becomes another set of sounds.

Honestly, it sounds more like this is about you, your husband, and a crazy amount of passive aggression,
45
My mom taught a girl named Aquanetta Jones. Save the clever names for your pets.
46
@39 Totally agree.

I was given an odd name for the times I was born. No one had my name. NO ONE. It wasn't that I disliked my name so much as I didn't understand why I was so singled out as being odd. It was my name and part of me. I was made to feel like I was doing something wrong by not having a common name or nickname. My name is biblical and old fashioned, but most people had at least heard of it. To compound that, it is my middle name, so every first day of school I had to go through the process of explaining I did not use my first name (which is too common). When I was 10, I was exhausted by the annual ritual so I just tried going by my first name but it felt unbelievably wrong and I had to stop doing that after a few weeks. The next year we had moved and I decided to go by a shortened version of my name which had always felt right to me. New school, new people and instantly I had a name that was still odd but felt good to me, like a favorite shirt. Off course, it took my family 5-10 years to actually call me by that name, but I didn't care. My mother was fond of saying she didn't name me that and I ignore her because she had her chance and blew it. If they had called me by the shortened version and given me time to grow into the name (and confidence to defend it) I probably use it as an adult.

Turns out both my names have a lot of significance in family history and genealogy, but that was never fully explained to me except an airy: oh, you're named for great-great grandmother. Yeah, but WHO was she and where did she get the name in the first place? I am thrilled with my names now, knowing where they came from and I'm grateful my parents didn't name me Tiffany or Courtney because "they liked the name." Ugh.

The LTR needs to get over herself. The kid likes his name and is comfortable with it. She is just hurting him when she calls him something else and implies his name is garbage. That's like saying, yeah, I got you hooked on soda, but it's a terrible thing and you're weak for not giving it up.

Seriously, woman, LET IT GO. You had your chance when he was born and you blew it. Don't punish him because you were too weak to insist on finding a name you both were truly happy with. That ship sailed once he was too big to call "Baby" all the time.

On a separate note: I hate my husband's name and never use it, but it didn't stop me from dating and eventually marrying him. He's not fond of my name either, so we call each other Honey all the time. To outsiders, it might seem weird, but it works for us.
47
Oh please please please tell me his name is Biguss Dickuss

And when he's older, he'll have a wife, you know - Incontinentia...
Incontinentia Buttocks
48
This is extremely odd. Cringing after 8 years?? That sounds like more than just an old tiff with the husband. It's her son and she cringes when she says his name. Usually the two (person, name which as noted above is just a collection of sounds) become enmeshed. Usually a mother introducing her son is feeling love or affection or something motherly. Cringe because she's saying his name? She needs to look into what the heck is the matter with her and her feelings toward her son. Poor kid. Of COURSE he senses the cringe. Shit. I think this is pretty fucked up and I feel for the kid.
49
@42: Yup. I had one of the most common names in the 70s and got mocked occasionally for surname anyway.

I'd much rather have a slightly less common name, though not one intentionally spelled differently.

I don't really get that, either. They're never spelled in a novelty manner because of transliteration.
50
@2: If your parents hadn't had kids, we'd have one less idiot shitting himself in slog posts.
51
Names matter a little, but in the end, the kid'll probably be called by a nickname anyhow. You couldn't get much worse than Moon Unit, or Dweezil, but the Zappa kids survived. The name of Grace Slick's daughter is (and always has been) China, and the notion that the little girl was originally named 'God' (or 'god') was purely the product of a joke worked out before her birth.
52
All I know is if I were having another kid her or his name would be "Hillary-Rodham-Clinton Surname."
53
@50 You beat me to it :)
54
I like the part where this mom thinks the name is the worst thing she's ever going to do for her son. Oh sweet parent, you have yet so many mistakes to make.
55
My mother was like this, never liked my name and brought that up often enough that I was aware of it. She also called me by a "secret" name, a name that I did not think was my name.

You are being an asshole to your son. Accept his name, the name he identifies himself by, and move on or realize you are ruining your relationship with him.
56
@4 WORD!

What's a manly name? Methinks LW's problem isn't her son's name. She should see a counselor to figure out why she really resents her husband, before she torpedoes her marriage, and give destroy her son's self esteem.
57
@34- What do you think Archie is short for? (aside from Archibald, which even sillier.)

@45- No she didn't. It's amazing how many of these "my mom/sister/cousin taught this girl named {something stupid}" stories float around and there's never any verification aside from some 4chan thread.
58
* before she...destroy her son's self esteem

Sigh. I'm a bit stressed!
59
I don't have much sympathy for people who are shown a golden opportunity, consciously choose not to take it, and then are bitter at someone else for offering them the opportunity in the first. Don't cry about your choices when you literally had other options.

Also, side note: I have a unique name (well, until very recently, and that won't be a problem any more). I can guarantee it's cost me jobs/job interviews in the past, especially before I got semi-established in my career. I hated it growing up. I got teased every day from basically Kindergarten through my junior year of high school, and still have to deal with endless number of people who either can't pronounce my name or assume I go by my last name or something.

As a kid, I hated it.

As an adult, it's totally cool. I wouldn't be who I am if I had been a regular Tom, Mark, or Adam.
60
@51 "You couldn't get much worse than Moon Unit, or Dweezil, but the Zappa kids survived"

Did you know they have a sister Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa?

Also a brother named Ahmet, who drew the longest straw apparently.
61
My money's on "Mercutio", if only because I like the sound of it myself. And whatever it is, you could do much worse than a Shakespearean name.

But yes, required reading for all future parents.
62
@34 Archimedes, in my experience, is an uncommon but not unheard of name in spanish speaking parts of the world.
63
My tip of the day is to Google any perspective names. I accidently named my daughter after the wife of Satan and the mother of all demons. I have never called her by her birth name, even when I am seriously pissed off at her. Even her school printed LILY on her diploma.
64
With Venn sadly packing up I’d like to refer the public to the “Catch22” segment describing the birth of Major Major Major Major, which went something like:
“Caleb it is, said the proud and sneaky father to the exhausted mother.”
65
@57: I privately called out a nurse friend for claiming that Oranjello happened at her hospital. She still stuck to the story, and I lost a lot of respect for her. I've known her for 20+ years and she should really fucking know better.
66
@63: A big fan of Frasier, eh?

The good news is that Samael is a fellow fallen angel, but not actually Satan.
67
@65 Undead Ayn

I know so many people who know someone who knows Oranjello and her sister Lemonjello. They've been born all over the country for decades so you'd think they'd have made the Top 100 Baby Names by now. Elusive sisters, those too. As well their cousin Female (fee-mall-lee) who was born to hapless immigrants who thought the US hospital assigned names.

@51 Donny

Zappa's kids have the dumbest of dumb celebrity names- grody to the max. But they are rich, and their father is pretty awesome, and their family seemed mostly stable/creative/nurturing, so I guess that mitigates the damage potentially done by being named Dwezil. I feel much more sorry for kids named bizarre things when they are just regular kids in Poughkeepsie. David Bowie's son Zowie preferred being called Joey and then changed his name to Duncan. Or maybe it was always Duncan and Zowie was a nickname?

@64 CMD

I think of Major Major Major Major every time I meet someone named something like Tommy Thompson or John Johnson etc which is surprisingly common.

68
@ 67 - Wikipedia lists Bowie's son's name as Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones. Apparently, David never legally changed his surname.
69
To avoid bullying, the State of Sonora in Mexico has banned various names (and public registry employees are allowed to try and discourage parents from using them in the rest of the country). Among the names that are now forbidden, but which unfortunately some children will forever be burdened with:

Robocop
Terminator
Lady Di
Escroto (Scrotum)
Usnavy (US Navy)
Hitler
Cesárea (Cesarean)
Email
Burger King
Circuncision (Circumcision)
And my favorite, Anivderev (also Anivdelarev), as the anniversary of the Mexican revolution is abbreviated on calendars, and which some people mistake for a saint's name (since catholics have a saint for every day of the year).

Facebook and Twitter have been banned preemptively. Thankfully.

Quite frankly, nothing in Shakespeare compares to naming your kid Hitler.

Stalin and Lenin have not been banned, though, which is rather surprising considering the former's body count. And yes, there are quite a few Stalin Sanchez-es around.
70
Stalin, etc- there are places in the world where communism is celebrated and average folks are either clueless about the tens of millions of people Stalin killed or else have willfully convinced themselves these deaths have been wrongfully attributed to him. Some of the southern Indian states are communist (though it looks nothing at all like the SU and standard of living there is actually nice), and some of those people name their kids Stalin. I bet it's less common now that people know more about history and the non-alligned movement is no longer important, etc. But in the past, these communities had a lot of pride in raising the standard of living through communism (peacefully!) and refusing to take sides in the Cold War. They pick names of communist "heroes" without really understanding the history- whether this ignorance is from willfulness, propaganda or simple lack of facts, I do not know. I suspect a mixture of all of them. So I wonder if your Stalin Sanchezes might come from Latin American countries that (at one time or another) celebrated communism as a sort of escape from US hegemony? I'd guess that the Stalins in the US are immigrants? The other names on your list make me feel better about the child I know with the very ridiculous name. It's as bad as Burger King, really. Freedom is messy, I guess. You'd never think we'd need a rule against naming your child after a fast food chain or a genocidal dictator.

71
@ 70 - It's quite clear that communism was for a long time vibrant in Mexico (though one wouldn't notice it that easy, since it was at the time of the PRI dictatorship, and therefore had little actual political impact). Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera gave shelter to Trotsky, while fellow painter David Siqueiros, a Stalinist, attempted to kill him. The Mexican intellectual class of the time was generally communist (though not necessarily in agreement as to which branch of communism was best).

But still. We have known for decades about Stalin's purges, so there's no excuse for anyone but really old people to be called Stalin. And yet...

Freedom is messy indeed.
72
This hits kinda hard for me because I have an unusual name. I'm the III, so I always thought it was selfish to name your kid after yourself. Any amount of supposed embarrassment doesn't justify shit. It's just a name, that's it, it doesn't define you or male you out to be something else besides the person you are. I love my parents, I love that my name isn't common. People should be more worried about that everyone is ok , in general than being named Santorum ass fuck dumpster.
73
BTW not being offensive. Santorum that 'shit' all around. I have a six ýear old daughter. If someone grabs her buy the pussy they are *DONE*

74
I'm tempted to ask what your other "wicked cool, manly names" were for your son.

I'm sure one of them was Reince.
75
When I was a child I hated my name because all the other bits were named John or Greg or Bob. By the time I was in high school, I lived myname because all the other boys were named John or Greg or Bob.