"How To Name A Child, or Great Expectations


The day a man's first child is born is one of the happiest days of his life (and when I say "happiest" I mean "least sober"). I am joking, of course (and when I say "of course," I mean "not really").


But rest assured that a little boy or girl (usually a boy, but more often a girl) pays for itself within two or three years in entertainment value alone. As my pastor Reverend Beady used to say (or was it Meany?), "A boy is God's little reminder that we ascended from monkeys." (Maybe it was Feeny. He looked like a Feeny).


But just as I was saying (I was, wasn't I? Or was that you, Meany?), one of the great privileges of having a child, as opposed to a dog (and who could be opposed to a dog?), is the honor of naming him after someone in your family who is dear to you, or at least who does not owe you money.


That is why I named my son "Caiaphas," after my great uncle (although "great" is laying it on a bit thick), who raised me like a son (because raising me like a daughter would have been too expensive).


To name a child, you do not need any prior experience in naming anything, although a background in calling a spade a spade certainly doesn't hurt. The trick of the thing is to try to anticipate how the child's little friends will mistreat his name on the playground, and pre-empt them. I have a cousin named April, and the girls at school nicknamed her "Ape." Children can be very cruel (children and editors, both), so this is where the pre-empting comes in. (Dentists are not exactly rays of sunshine either).


When choosing a name for the precious fruit of your loins (which reminds me, I need to go to the butcher), try to pick a name which is iron-clad and beyond mockery. (Luckily, my little Caiaphas can take a joke!).


Here are a few pointers for child-naming which I hope will make your task easier, or at least less clear:


1. If it's a boy, a simple name like Jack, Bill or Jim never goes out of style, if style is a concern of yours, and if it is, why are you wearing that?

2. For a girl, the best name is Ponchetta. There is nothing the kiddies can do to a name like Ponchetta that hasn't already been done.

3. This line is to be left blank for office use only.

4. All right, I am out of ideas. Maybe you can ask Feeny.


So you see, naming a child should not be considered brain surgery (brain surgery shouldn't either, but who is going to argue with a man holding a knife?). In the end, there is no shame in just opening the phone book, closing your eyes and pointing at a name.


If it worked for Meany, it will work for you.