“If you don’t know what to name your child, ask Carol.”

By Jonathan Schlosser

I work at a library, so I get to notice a lot of little trends in what people are interested in and what people aren’t interested in (those ones are harder to see, of course, but one must just look for where the dust is thickest - books about Nickelback’s contributions to modern music, for example - and that’s what people don’t care about). One of the things I have noticed people reading, strangely enough, are books on baby names.

Now, the first thing I thought was this: shouldn’t they be books on “human” names? I mean, are there names out there that people can outgrow, names that you should only give to children in the hopes that they don’t make it through to adulthood? Or are there more books, in some other library, called “Adult Names”? And that leads to this question: is someone out there going around and trying to name full-grown adults? Or, perhaps there is a colony of people somewhere who don’t name themselves until after they’ve achieved the heroic feats of surviving acne and having your voice crack.

I’m not sure what is going on, but people are interested in these books. The covers are white and pink (suggesting again that the babies being named might come to hate their parents as they age, or at least to consider following in the ever-wise footsteps of Chad Johnson – I mean, Chad Ochocinco). They come in and out of the library more than anything Hemingway or Vonnegut ever wrote, which is another travesty that probably deserves its own column and which I won’t go into here. So, since I’m naturally curious and prone to doing things that don’t involve getting my work done, I decided to check some of these books out.

The books I looked at were “20,001 Names for Baby”, by Carol McD. Wallace, and “The Penguin Classic Baby Name Book,” also by Carol McD. Wallace, who apparently has had quite a few children. Here are just a few of the names I found:

1. Giacomo - this sounds like a sort of mold, or maybe a bacterial infection. “You have a lot of Giacomo in your system, sir; you’re going to be pretty sick for the next month unless you take a lot of these large green pills. Oh, no. They don’t go in through the mouth, sir. Sorry.”
2. Azuba - this sounds suspiciously like the sound a large, wooly creature would make. Perhaps a creature with tusks and a trunk. Now, I’m not saying that’s for sure. I haven’t been around any that I’ve heard having casual conversation with each other. But the first thing that came into my mind was that sort of creature, standing on a mountaintop, trumpeting off what could only be a mating call.
3. Narda - sorry, but there is no way that kid is going to spend any time in school without being called “Nards” on a regular basis. Now, perhaps that was only slang for a certain part of the male anatomy where I was growing up, but I’d still say it’s best to avoid it just in case.
4. Melpomene - this sounds like one of two things: a gas that has yet to appear on the Periodic Table because scientists can’t heat anything up to sufficient temperatures to create it, or a household cleaner. Or, maybe, a gas that can be made into a household cleaner and used to keep the sink and toilet bowl shining and white.
5. Grifone - this is actually a rip-off iPhone that you can buy at K-Mart, as long as you’re ready to never have service and to have every one of the apps be endorsed by Martha Stewart.

So that’s what people are after, I suppose. Names for their children that can probably get those children kicked off the football team or the cheerleading squad and right into the Chess Club. Which, you know isn’t all that bad. Because the kids in the Chess Club will probably grow up to invent teleportation. But it’s sort of bad. Because those same kids will also spend a lot of very hungry afternoons watching the guys from the football team eat their lunches.


Jonathan Schlosser is a writer and part-time library worker. He has published some short fiction and is working on finding a publisher for his novel. He has a B.A. in Writing, which means that, for a living, he is allowed to put away books at the library. He is also allowed to tell parents to tell their children to be quiet. He lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Email: jon.j.schlosser@gmail.com.

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