Names Like Tom, Dick and Harry Won’t Prevent your Baby Boy from Getting a Wedgie in High School

I enjoyed reading an excerpt from Tom  Purcell’s book Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!  I think you’ll enjoy it too, because it’s an amusing blend of humor and advice.

Notice I didn’t say I agreed with it. Purcell’s thesis seems to be: Don’t give your child an ostentatious name, because that will motivate your son’s high-school classmates to give him wedgies. (Do girls’ get wedgies? I think not. So Purcell’s “logic” only applies to 50% of the population.) Instead, give your child a completely ordinary name from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s 60’s, 70’s or 80s so he fits right in (or so nobody pays any attention to him) and he won’t get any wedgies.

Here’s the part of his article that amused me.

 “According to The Wall Street Journal, parents are obsessing over what to name their kids. They’re hiring consultants, applying mathematical formulas and software programs and even bringing in nutty spiritualist types. One couple hired a pair of consultants to draw up a list of suggestions based on “phonetic elements, popularity and ethnic and linguistic origins.” One woman paid a “nameologist” $350 for three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing each name’s history and personality traits. Another spent $475 on a numerologist to see if her favorite name had positive associations, whatever the heck that means. Why the obsession over children’s names? One baby-naming expert says that we live in a market-oriented society. That by giving your kid the right name — the right branding, if you will — he or she will have a head start in life. Oh, brother.”

And here’s the part of his article I agreed with:

“If you really want your kid to be special, a name is not going to do it. Your kid is going to have to earn it. She is going to have to work hard and sacrifice. She’ll have to try and fail and eventually find her place — find whatever she’s good at — and then work harder to develop her talents. It will be easier to do that if she is humble. And it will be easier for her to be humble if she doesn’t have a name that makes her think she’s precious and special and God’s gift to the universe (such as Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backward).”

I hope you enjoy Tom Purcell’s article too. But realize this: Names that were popular in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s won’t magically help your child  become popular in high school or, at the very least, ward off wedgies 15 years from now. So don’t unthinkingly give your child a name that worked well for your brothers and sisters (or worse, your grandparents* or your uncles and aunts).

So, if your main goal is to avoid winding up with a high-school kid who gets wedgies, make up your mind to screen  past and current names–searching for names likely to be cool about 15 years from now. Of course I’d suggest avoiding nerdy names like Albert, Arnold and Mortimer. But 15 years from now, a boy named Beckett just might be the popular guy who gives wedgies to kids with boring name from the past.

*Did you read my post about the name Jenna Bush picked for her baby girl? She picked Margaret Laura (“Mila”). Margaret and Laura were the paternal and maternal grandmothers’ names. Mila is a cool name that Jenna (and everyone else, except perhaps the grandmas) will call the child. Fifteen years from now, Mila will be telling Beckett whether Tom, Dick or Harry should get a wedgie.

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