Wednesday, May 25, 2016

These days, baby names are a lot to live up to

They say that in your lifetime you will hear your name spoken approximately 10 million times, and by "they," I mean the statisticians I just made up in order to sound factual. Let's just agree it's a lot of times. A name can affect your whole life, so I am fascinated by the choices Americans make in naming their children, and by "fascinated," I mean judgmental.

Noah is currently the #1 boy's name, which makes sense, given the current popularity of animal rights activism. Then you realize that Jesus is only at #128! Granted, as a name, your Noah does not carry the same expectations as your Jesus. That's all to the good. But naming your kid Noah does not automatically cause the universe to create more zookeeper jobs. Think, people. 

Liam is #2. Just six years ago it was #49. Six years aligns exactly with the rise of One Direction and pop heartthrob Liam Payne. There is no other explanation for such a jump in popularity, unless perhaps young mothers admire Liam Neeson's ability to repeatedly retrieve his kidnapped wives and daughters in movies. Maybe that's it. Yeah, that's probably it.

Harper broke into the top 10 girl names last year, an inexplicably dramatic rise, up from #887 in just a dozen years. Neil Patrick Harris jumped on the Harper bandwagon, as did soccer star David Beckham. TV uber-producer Shonda Rimes birthed a Harper, a Beckett and an Emerson. (Where is little Vonnegut? Baby Thoreau?) I hope all three kids end up being math majors out of sheer spite. I mean, I like baseball, but I didn't name my son Jeter Waters. 

We have apparently reached Peak Joshua. He's dropped to #33 after having seemingly unstoppable legs. A decade ago, you could not swing a Jacob on a Little League field without hitting a Joshua. Believe me, I tried. Mason is the new Joshua, thanks to the last-name-as-first-name fad which began in the early 2000's with the Madison-ization of America. 

Now there are little Kennedys and Reagans and Lennons everywhere. Where's good ol' Joe? Not even in the top 20. I went to school with Bud and Pete. They were just Bud and Pete, not a nod to someone else once famous or powerful. Seems like parents today are trying too hard to give their kid an early advantage. Then again, I'm from a generation that played cowboys and Indians un-ironically, so what do I know?