Call Me Ishmael, Part Deux

A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named “Amal.” The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him “Juan.” Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his mom. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, “But they’re twins – if you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

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Oh man. Everyone pounces on the Social Security Administration’s list of top ten baby names. But did you know the SSA also tabulates data for the most popular names given to twins? It’s no joke.

But be warned: people have a tendency to get cutesy with twins, as though the right names might clinch that audition for the Doublemint gum commercial.

Herewith, a few standouts:

• For twin girls, the 6th most popular monikers were Heaven and Nevaeh. Oooo – wordplay! If you stare at the names long enough, you may eventually decode this diabolical cipher. (The real mystery is how one should pronounce Nevaeh.)

• The names London and Paris were ranked 19. It’s always instructive to imagine calling out your daughters’ names from the next aisle in a supermarket, or across the town pool. If doing so makes you sound like an asshole, go with different names.

• 26th most popular were Chloe and Zoey. As in cloying and annoying.

• Nine pairs of twins were named Autumn and Summer. What do you wanna bet Autumn grows up to be the bookish one? And Summer ends up the slutty sister that puts out. Just thinking out loud here.

For reasons unknown, parents are far less gimmicky with twin boys. Although in 2011, boy/girl twins got saddled with names like Tyler/Taylor (ranked 11), Landon/London (13), and Jayden/Jayda (3). I think I just threw up in my mouth and swallowed it.

For singletons, the year’s big trend was supposed to be the resurgence of old-timey names. I was looking forward to meeting some Stanleys and Mortimers, Stellas and Pearls. But in the past five years the name Stanley dropped 74 spots in the rankings. And the SSA has received virtually no applications with the name Mortimer since 1972. Perhaps it was all just some aspirational hipster myth, like absinthe, banjos, and chopping wood.

Oh but what’s this?… Pearl has jumped 146 spots in one year. And Stella has climbed 525 spots in ten years. So perhaps there’s something to it. Be on the lookout for an upcoming Streetcar revival.

If people want to rock it old school, they should a) immediately cease all use of phrases like “rock it old school.” And b) go for genuinely old names. Like Agamemnon. Or Tutankhamen.

My favorite name anecdote comes from Overheard In New York. A woman was indignant over people mispronouncing her daughter’s name. “I did not name my daughter Lady Nasty,” she complained to a friend. “I named my baby girl La Dynasty!”

On that note, my advice is to ignore the trends and opt for a name that’s truly ghetto-fabulous. You’ll find inspiration in this classic video:

For more fun with baby names, check out the first installment of Call Me Ishmael.
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7 Responses to Call Me Ishmael, Part Deux

  1. HFLifeMom May 25, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    So glad to hear about Pearl. If we had a girl, we were going to name her Pearl Jane or Janey Pearl. It’s my husband’s mother’s name. She’d be 101 if she was still alive so it’s an old name that is due for a comeback.

    • Melanie May 25, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      I love the pretty old names :) Our daughter was born in February and we named her Evangeline. Adelaide and Beatrice are also in the back of my mind, should we have another.

  2. Melanie May 25, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Link, link, please, to this list of twin names! My husband is an identical twin so I think he’ll find it amusing. He and his brother were not given cutesy matching names, btw- totally unrelated family heritage names.

    • Daddy Confidential May 25, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      Sure thing, Mel. Here’s the link for twin boys. You should see tabs at top of page for girls and mixed gender twins.

  3. Ginger1 May 25, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Agamemnon is one of Elsa’s most commonly used nicknames. This is verifiable.

  4. Michele May 26, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    LMAO. My BFF actually said this to me when we were pregnant: “always instructive to imagine calling out your daughters’ names from the next aisle in a supermarket, or across the town pool. If doing so makes you sound like an asshole, go with different names.” We took her advice :)

    I hate cutesy names. H.A.T.E. them.

    Best name I’ve heard? T’a. How do you think that’s said?




    No kidding. Tuh-Dash-Ah. Accent on the ‘dash’. Yeah. Really.

  5. Amy B. May 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    While my sisters liked to pretend they were She-ra and Wonder Woman, I liked to pretend that I was the superheroine “Pearl.” Don’t ask me why…Pearl just seemed fitting for a superheroine. What was my super power you ask? Hmmm…don’t rightly know. Perhaps I had many crystalline layers of calcium carbonate that protected me from negative external forces. :o) Ah, the beauty of names.

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