One of the more interesting pre-birth debates between my wife and I involved the name selection process. Like other expecting parents, we gradually narrowed down our respective lists so that we could present our oral arguments in support of our favorites. Both of us scoured various name list books, while cross-checking origins and meanings on the Internet. We wanted something less common and at the same time meaningful to us in some way. Personally, I also needed a name with good nickname potential.
For whatever reason, my relatives and friends love to assign nicknames. For example, depending on the circle, my brother goes by T-bone, T-boz, T-rex, Rex, Wrecks-n-effex, T-gunner, Gomez, Beaker, Mole, Moleman. Ryan has gone from Noondog to Shit Tooth to Tooth to Toof. Jake H. answers to anything with a “Z” sound in it such as Skittlitz, Sklipz, Skipzey, Scallopz, but he is not to be confused with Jake G. who is Yake, Footee, or Yake Foo. There’s also Hot Cold, Fun Breasts (a guy), Al B. Core, J-Brid (not Bird), the Colonel, Bones, Muffin, Morning Dove, Onion Boy, Hoiven Maiven, Sweet Willy Jive, and Mega Woman. My own aliases have included Deneye, Deniable, the little General, Lenford, D-Rock, Dentist, and Buttercups.
When we were still deciding, I was a big fan of Ernest. First of all, it is an uncommon name. Secondly, it’s got kind of a retro classic je ne sais quoi. Third, the nickname potential was off the charts: the big Ern (obviously, my favorite), Ernie, Ernesto, E.T. – the possibilities were limitless. The connection with Hemingway provided bonus points, too.
Unfortunately, the baby mama was diametrically opposed. In her mind, Ernest was someone who would be “beat up on the first day of school and get his lunch money stolen.” For reasons I couldn’t fathom, my counter-argument about nickname potential didn’t seem to resonate.
As a matter of fact, the wife rejected 99% of my suggestions. Her opposition was based generally on two grounds: a) she found a way to manipulate the name into a traumatizing taunt that our baby’s classmates would use to torture Baby T, or b) she had some type of bizarre association with the name that there was no way she could consider it.
Max? “I love that name – oh, but wait. Maxi pad. We can’t do it.” Phyllis? “Nope. Too close to Phil-latio.” Walter a/k/a Wally, Wall-man, Dubs? “We are not naming our child after our cat!” Oscar a/k/a the Big-O, Ozzy, Oz-man? “They’ll call him O-Face.” Peter? “That’s a name for a penis!” (I didn’t ask. )
In fairness, I rejected a fair share of her suggestions, too. She seemed to favor names like Apple, Suri, Maddox, and Rumor. Or maybe she was just telling me about “They’re Just Like Us” in “Us Weekly.” I can’t remember. Also, any name of someone we formerly dated was kind of dicey.
Somehow, we arrived at a mutually excited consensus about our final choices. I especially loved Greta Jane for our girl’s name because it honored both of our mothers and it sounded pretty to us. When Shell asked me for possible nicknames, I said Gigi and she was sold. Where we agreed on so few names, I intentionally kept quiet about the first taunting nickname that came to my mind and buried it away.
The past few ridiculously amazing months with Gigi have inspired other spontaneous titles, but none of which are likely to stick: Gorgeous Greta the Great Genius, G-Love, my little chicken mullet bug, and the chunky monkey. What can I say, she’s just inspiring.
So now that the birth announcements finally shipped in the mail, I can come clean and apologize in advance to my precious little peanut. Greta, if you ever read this, I’m sorry if the kids ever call you G-Spot. I hope you will forgive me for holding out on your mother, but Anya “was just too Russian gymnast.”