Naming a Baby is Hard

Baby Name Meme

This article first appeared in the Herald Sun

Have you ever tried naming a baby? Maybe you think it’d be easy. In reality, it’s really hard. Last year my wife and I had to name one, and although we had nine months, we nearly missed the deadline.

You don’t realize how many people you dislike until you try it, and you can’t pick one of those because anytime you look at the kid, you don’t want to be thinking of someone you despise.

Names of past partners are also out, because the last thing you want to see in your child’s face is what might have been with someone else. Friends and family are out too, since you don’t want them thinking you named the baby in their honor. Regardless of what you might say, that person will always suspect you did, and will never let you forget it.

You want the name to be individual, but not so individual that your child suffers. Studies have revealed that people with difficult to spell or pronounce names have a tougher time finding a job, and CEOs and the other soulless men in charge of everything tend to have simple names.

In business, apparently it helps a woman if she has a gender-neutral name, and a man’s chances of getting a callback are improved with a common ‘white’ sounding name, proving that the white patriarchy is alive and thriving. These effects are subtle, however, and hopefully fading, so if you are a boy named Sue, don’t give up just yet.

In Australia it’s illegal to name your kid anything too offensive or weird, or something that could be a title. Meaning I can’t call my daughter ‘Empress’, ‘Queen’, or ‘Australian Open’. Before this list of names was released, a friend of mine got ‘Duke’ approved. He was asked to consider changing it because of all the real dukes running around in Australia, but the only two I’ve heard of are ‘The Dukes of Hazard’ and I think they’re American.

If you need to give your kid a weird name, put it in the middle. I know some people whose boys have the middle names Frankenstein, Zombie and Keith. Imagine trying to get through life with the first name Keith? At least if it’s in the middle, you’ve got a chance.

Don’t go for an ‘Younique’ spelling either. Every human being has enough challenges in their life, without having to constantly correct anyone who attempts to spell their name the way everyone else does.

Also, be aware that names are continually dropping in and out of fashion. They’re basically the facial hair of words, and you don’t want to give your child a mustache, when everyone else has a beard.

Another good tip is to look up what the name means before bestowing it on your spawn. I do like my name, but it means ‘a new house’. Which I think is my parents’ inside joke about what they couldn’t afford after I appeared.

Lastly, once you’ve picked a name, it’s important to keep it a secret because someone you know will have a good reason for not liking it. With our baby girl, my wife and I had a name all picked out, but when we told my wife’s mother, she scrunched her nose and said the name Abigail sounded like a putrid wind, and that she knew an Abigail who was a bitch.

Nobody wants their kid to be arousing awful memories in anyone before they’ve even arrived, so we quickly decided to choose something else, and very slowly decided what that something else should be.

This article first appeared in the Herald Sun

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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