Was Fergie’s Dream About Her Son Axl’s Name Designed to Stop Pundits’ Tongues From Wagging?

Apparently, the name for Fergie and Josh Duhamel’s son, Axl Jack, came to her after a dream. She revealed this charming dream story to Ellen DeGeneres on TV a few days ago. Here’s what she said. (According to Kat Stoeffel of New York Magazine.) Is Fergie’s story truth? Or fiction? What do you think?

“I was in the audience at this festival…On stage singing was Jim Morrison and then came Bob Marley and then Axl Rose. I was in heaven in this dream, and I’m dancing and just getting into the music.”

Here’s what happened next, according to The Daily News: “It was then that Fergie awoke, roused from her dream by the kick of her unborn son.” She was convinced that the name of her son should be Axl Jack (Jack being the name of Fergie’s late, great uncle.) “It just had this ring to it,” she said.

This comment prompted New York Magazine writer Kat Stoeffel to make a joke which contained an element of truth: “Indeed, not all dream baby names are so assonant and iconic. I recently dreamed I had a baby named Raisin Applesauce, which is a mouthful and a transparent Gwyneth Paltrow ripoff.”

Has it occurred to you that the reason Axl Jack has what Fergie describes as “this ring to it” is because it sounds like an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple cider—known as “Applejack”? And Stoeffel’s clever little joke suggests that if Fergie gave her deceased uncle Jack’s name a little alcoholic flair by naming the baby Apple Jack, pundits (like Kat Stoeffel) might have accused Fergie of “a transparent Gwyneth Paltrow ripoff.”

Hence the story about Fergie’s “dream.” Of course we’ll never know if Fergie started with Apple Jack and morphed the name to Axl Jack to prevent tongues from wagging. I mean, if you’re dead set on giving your child an outlandish name, why take a bum rap for plagiarism?

The moral of this tale seems to be: it isn’t easy for a celebrity to give his or her child a ridiculous name. That’s why talk show “leaks” are so important to the process of giving the  name a celebrity came up with, while listening to her favorite tunes, a charming raison d’etre. You may recall that Kanye West used Jay Leno for the same purpose, when he leaked the name North West as “joke.”

Hmm, maybe it would have been more convincing if Fergie had leaked the name Axl Jack to Ellen as a “joke.” On the other hand, maybe she realized that giving her son a name that was launched as a “joke” might be less appealing than a name that was launched as a “heavenly dream.”

The Name Jenna and Henry Picked for Their Baby Girl: A Mystery, Part Two

Initially, I delayed writing about Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager’s name until I found out that Margaret was Henry Hager’s mother’s name. That clue got me started on the path of trying making sense of the name and the smoke and mirrors that surrounded it. The name and the cover story struck me as a mystery to be solved. If you read my first post, you’ll notice I figured part of it out as I went along. Now I realize a key clue was right in front of me, and I initially missed its significance. Fact is, I was almost as faked out as everyone else.

Let’s start at the beginning:

1. Jenna and Henry Hager named their daughter Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager. That’s the name they announced to the news media.

2. They claimed they had named her after their mothers, Margaret Hager and Laura Bush.

3. However, they said they would call her “Mila” (a name they put in quotation marks as though it were a nickname like Elvis “the Pelvis” Presley). But — no matter what it says on the child’s birth certificate — for all practical purposes, her name is Mila.

4. They also said that Mila was a combination of Margaret and Laura. But if that were true, they would have picked the name “Mala,” which is a short form of Magdalene. Since many still believe that the biblical Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, the name “Mala” could be problematic. Also, “Mala” is the female form of the Spanish word for “bad” or “evil,” and since Spanish is widely spoken in the Bushes’ home state of Texas, a name like “Evil Hager” wouldn’t do.

5. Fact is, Mila is a short form of Ludmilla and other Russian and Slavic names with a “-milla” suffix. And the most famous Mila at the moment is Mila Kunis, a beautiful and talented film star who was born in the Ukraine, is known for her roles in movies like Friends with Benefits, Black Swan, Date Night and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and was voted Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alive.” That’s all A-OK with the younger generation like Jenna and Henry, but it’s not exactly the “Mom and apple pie” image that the two Georges, Barbara, Laura and the rest of the Republican Old Guard are likely to warm up to.

6. And this leads me to believe it is quite possible that Jenna and Henry decided to name their daughter after Mila Kunis and subsequently came up with the charming “cover story” that they had named her after their mothers.

7. And if this is true, they may have conned Mila’s grannies and they certainly faked out their tradition-bound families and fans by announcing that the baby’s name is Margaret Laura (on her birth certificate) but that they (and everyone else) will henceforth call her Mila, claiming it is a combination of the two names. No, it’s not! (This turns out to be the clue I didn’t fully appreciate in my first post about this name.)

8. Mention Margaret, and I think of the late Margaret Thatcher, with her permanently pouffed hairstyle that is suddenly all the rage in the weeks after her death. Funny, I don’t remember the go-getting yuppie women of the ‘80s sporting Thatcher hairstyles back when Thatcher was in power. They would have thought it laughable.

9. Mention Laura, and I think of the gracious, lovely and long-suffering Laura Bush.

10. Mention Mila, and I think of Mila Kunis. Don’t you?

11. So, who are Jenna and Henry kidding? To some extent, their families. And, to a large extent, the gushing press and the Republican Party. And the lady who wrote me an angrily worded note wondering why I wasn’t touched by the poignant gesture of naming Mila after her two grandmothers.

12. Truth is, I wasn’t quite as touched as my critic was, because I don’t believe Mila was named after her grandmothers.

13. I think Jenna and Henry named Mila after Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alive,” Mila Kunis!

The Name Jenna and Henry Picked for Their Baby Girl: A Mystery, Part One

I’d been putting off* commenting about the name Jenna and her husband, Henry Hager, gave their baby girl–until I learned (from a Glamour blog) that Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager was named after her two grandmothers (Margaret Hager and Laura Bush).

Although Jenna and Henry decided to name the baby after their mothers, they made it clear that the baby’s first and middle names were strictly “honorific.” They will call their baby Mila (which they explained was a combination of their mothers’ two names). This reminds me of Uma Thurman, who gave her baby girl five names and then ditched them all for a nickname, Luna.

What do I think of Mila? When people read the name, they may wonder how to pronounce it: ME-la or MILL-la? And when people hear the name, they may wonder how to spell it: Meela or Milla?  Mila is a short form of names like Ludmilla (Russian/Slavic) and Camilla (Italian). Ludmilla means “loved by the people.” Camilla means “young ceremonial attendant.” In short, Mila is a nickname of Russian/Slavic or Italian origin that will be the primary moniker for the granddaughter and great granddaughter of two American presidents named Bush.

It must have taken some guts to name their baby Mila, but the rest of the baby’s name seems like it was cobbled together to gain support from both sides of the family.  The idea of giving a baby girl a name that will be used only on the birth certificate doesn’t make sense to me. Why not name her Camilla “Mila” Hager and be done with it?

Glamour gushed that Margaret Laura “Mila” Bush is “a cute” name. But it comes across to me as a strange political contrivance which offers the baby girl an official name (which will be used on Mila’s driver’s license and and voter registration card)  and an unoffical name which be reserved for everyday use.

My verdict: two thumbs down.

*The reason I put off writing about Margaret Laura Hager is that the name seemed so lackluster. I had no idea why a seemingly spunky young woman like Jenna would agree to such a tame name.  It wasn’t until I learned that Henry’s mother was named Margaret that I began to understand part of Henry and Jenna’s plan.

But there was something I still didn’t get: Laura Margaret sounds a lot better than Margaret Laura (as evidenced by the fact that there are millions of Irish women named Mary Margaret–and very few named Margaret Mary). So why did Jenna and Henry go with the more awkward name order? My guess is that Jenna put her mother’s name second to get Mila (an unusual Russian/Slavic or Italian nickname) rather than Lama (a funny Peruvian-sounding nickname).

(See my second post, in which I pay closer attention to a clue mentioned, but didn’t fully appreciated, in this post.)