What’s in a Name?

My real name is Melissa. That’s a great name if you are a Melissa type. I clearly am not and I suppose the silly molecules that bump awkwardly into Fate until it makes an ugly move in some direction knew that I am clearly not a Melissa. So those molecules (so far, I am really impressing people with my scientific prowess) and Fate had to make a very split second decision while a marker was in the hand of a nurse who has less medical knowledge than I do and she scribbled ‘Missy’ on my eensy weensy hospital bracelet when I was one day old. Well now. I can’t control what she does. And I can’t control the fact that my brother, way too young at the time to be thrust unsuspecting into the role of my protector (now I am really laughing), could not pronounce the name ‘Melissa.’ And I guess I further can’t control the fact that my own dear parents, bless their souls 2 miles from here, did not seem to have a proper naming schema in place when their son and that nurse came together in an evil board meeting to name me. It always comes down to that one thing that I actually can control: my reaction. And here it is:

What? Really?

There. I feel vindicated.

Actually there are two things I could control: My reaction and the names of my future children (they were futuristic then. Now they are present tense and there aren’t any on the way. Go bug someone else…)

Because my name is Missy, I was beyond particular when developing the naming schema to be applied to each of our children. If you already know their names, then you can judge whether or not I did a decent job with that.  If you don’t know their names, pick a random fella as we discuss this topic and you’ll do fine. This entire process started for me the moment I knew I was expecting and lasted until the moment the babies were born. This was a full time job.

Meaning: I was personally a very Picky McPickenpants about what a name meant. This meant that several names beloved by my dear husband were immediately tossed into the trash can of bad baby names. If your child is named something that ended up in my can of bad baby names, please know that this name is just fine for your child. Just not for mine. In fact, I left it open just for you. Mary meant bitter. I know there are some VERY special Marys in the Bible and I have nothing but the utmost respect for that. I just couldn’t get past the ‘bitter’ thing. Tristan meant tumult. Kennedy? Misshapen head.  Cameron? Crooked Nose. So there were a few in there that just didn’t make the cut. I didn’t want to call my crooked nose to dinner.

Graduation Roll Call: There are people that would call this one obscure. But it has merit. Take your child’s name and call it out. Call it out slowly. Like you are wearing a silly little capngown and standing at a microphone. Melissa – Ann – Snapp. Actually that wasn’t my maiden name and I wasn’t married at my high school graduation. Joshua James Snapp. Wow, that’s a mouthful of zs and ss. Jimmy Jack Snapp. That one has the dreaded glottal stop AND a nursery rhyme collision. This little test will come in handy at graduations and weddings. Think about it. Your child will thank you. If they are thoughtful. Or weird.

Good name, Bad name: Now this one pretty much just allowed me to say no to any name I didn’t want. This is the one that drove Todd completely crazy, because I used it often and with no consistent rationale.  Evelyn. (Again, I support you in naming your child Evelyn. I just couldn’t.) I still have yet to determine if he was truly serious about Calvin Fletcher and Evelyn, but I was forced to pull the good name, bad name card with these, and many other, choices. Calvin Fletcher? Dead President. Evelyn? 80-year-old grandma who lost on Price is Right. She lost bad, too. Harper? Sounds like a harpie. Or a boy. Or a unisex kid. Adrian? Drug addict.

Playground Smack: What can be done with a name on a playground? Ridiculous things. Twists in words that should never have occurred. Simon? Simple Simon. Simon says. Oh, I know my name is Simon, and I like to make Drawrings.  Charlie. Charlie and the CHOCOLATE FACTORY? OK, that one never happens. I’m reaching.

Telephone Solicitation/First Day Roll Call: James Darleson? Um, yes ma’am. Here. It’s Wesley, please. I actually wanted to break this rule, because I’m irrational that way. But Todd insisted we keep to it. And I think I see the point. Take Uncle Cletus for example. His name is Roberto Cletus Lastname. He gets formal sales calls all the time for Roberto. Don’t you know that’s an easy way to spot a call from the Police Benevolence Association. In my thinking, that is a !POINT! in the favor of naming your child and calling them by the middle name. You can tell your friends quickly by what they call you. But alas, our first names are first and middles are middle.

Rhymes With: This one should be obvious. Take the name of your precious cherub, and take the alphabet, now GO. Every single letter in front of that name you are picking. Be very sure about this one. Or your child will be angry. And blog about it. Forever. I mean it.

So as I was reaching back into the mindmaze of our babynaming process, I did what any woman needing clarification would do. I instant messaged my husband.
He’s upstairs.
We do this a lot.
Some of our best talks have been on IM.

Here was, verbatim, our conversation. You can hear the bitterness in his tone as he two-finger types this message…

M: We ran our names through the following tests: rhymes with, playground smack, meaning, Graduation roll call, anything else?

T: not called middle,
Not preemptive middle (by this, he meant, don’t name a kid John David if you already know you are going to just call him David).
Not preemptive Nick — (by this he meant, don’t name a kid Elizabeth if you know from the beginning that she’ll be a Betsy. And though I know now which test he was referring to, I still have no idea what the words “not preemptive middle” mean or why they were squashed together in a phrase of any kind.)

I thought we were done.
He kept going.

T: Doesn’t coincide with anyone you (meaning me) have ever disliked slightly. Or an overweight person.

M: OK. This made me laugh hard, but cannot be written on a public blog. Also, it isn’t true. You are angry. We should talk about this.

T: I know.  If their names rhyme with any part of the body.
Or anything that comes out of the body.
Or any activity done in the bathroom.

M: Well, there went Dave.

T:Another rule. Never a last name on a soap opera. Never in a movie. Doesn’t end in –ess. Two or more syllables.

M: Are you mocking me now?

T: Just providing research content.

There is no moral to this story. But if you haven’t yet named your child, you’re welcome.

9 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I am sorry I gave you a name. I should have waited till you were 8 and let you name yourself. Love, Mom It isn’t an easy process as you know!

  2. You look like a Melissa to me. I like your name. It doesn’t ryhme with anything and I’ve never known anyone named that I didn’t like.

  3. Missy – this is great! I went through all the same things in naming our kids. You can tell the parents that don’t follow these simple rules when you attend graduations….or just say their child’s name out loud! And because people are so funny about commenting on names, that is why we did not share names before they were born!

  4. Oh man. You totally missed a naming criteria. My Mr B assured me that our children also had to pass the Google test. Our offspring could not remind the public of vampires, serial killers or history-wishes-to-forget type people. There WERE some doozy specimens that popped up with slightly different spellings. But our child had no chance to be so crazy as SHE was because our name looks different on paper. We also had a “shout it out from the back porch” test.
    The sad news? Almost any name can be rhymned into something demeaning…

  5. Well Wayne’s middle name was supposed to be Eric, but as his 13-year-old sister I knew a boy named Eric that I didn’t like. So, I came up with the great name Elton, which he is not really thrilled with and certainly wouldn’t have chosen for himself. Then you have the whole Elton John thing, which gives it a whole other twist.
    Beverly, on the other hand, was named by the mailman George. She was the last and very late 4th child with teenage siblings and a very tired mother. The family could not come to a consensus as to a suitable name. They owned a country general store (this was 68 years ago) that also doubled as a post office. The mailman asked daily about the name and every day was told she still was nameless. Finally said baby was about 3 weeks old and mailman George had had enough. He told dad just to name the baby Beverly. Dad went home, announced to the family that Beverly was her name and that was the end of that.
    So, the end of the story is that you are not the only one with naming issues!

  6. I have wondered many times over the years if I am a “Melissa type” also. I was MISSY until I went to first grade. On the first day of first grade, as I was leaving for school, my mother told me that I was to tell the teacher that my name was MELISSA – NOT Missy. Because I was a big girl. Maybe someday you’ll reach “big girl status” and be able to go by Melissa. I very much enjoyed your child-naming rules.

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