One minute, you think naming your son Shane is going to give him a chaps-wearing leg up in life by bestowing him with all the quiet coolness of a 1950’s movie cowboy. The next, you’re sure naming him Shane will make him the poopy-pants, wheezy outcast who sits out gym class because he forgot his inhaler.
It’s a big job, naming a human being.
I ran my current short list of baby names by a name expert, Pamela Redmond Satran (developer of addictive site Nameberry.com and coauthor of the new book, “Beyond Ava & Aiden.”) As far as I can tell, she is the baby name maven. And man, she despises one of my beloved names.
I’ve also included some of your comments and suggestions, which I must say I have loved receiving, especially after discussing the topic with Adam Carolla and Bald Bryan on a recent podcast. Thank you so much for your feedback. Me and Baby No Name adore hearing from you.
Here’s what I got so far:
Me: You know the trouble with this one: the nickname Jim. Jims seem like nice guys, I just don’t want one. I am told by many who have written to me that Jim is an old school nickname, and that James can remain James. Can this be true? Also, how common is James? And have girls overtaken the name James? Those greedy little girl parents are taking everything.
The Name Expert: For me, James is really good. And doesn’t have to be Jim (though I actually like Jim). I have a Joe who has never, ever been called Joey, at least by anyone who lived to tell about it. There are lots of Jameses – but not in your neighborhood. Unless they’re girls. I really don’t think the girls are taking it over, though, not en masse outside the hipster ghetto.
What you say: I counted 18 pro-James comments.
Jaime says: “My best friend is named Jim, and has 99% of the time successfully avoided being called Jim.”
Michela says: “If you like James, what about Jay? There is literally no nicknaming possible!”
Catherine says: “The Jim fear shows the generational gap. I don’t know any Jims younger than 40, every other James I’ve ever met has gone by “James” or “Jamie” so I think you should put James back on the table. I think Jim and Jimmy came from families back in the day when everyone was named after an older family member, so you’d end up with seven men named James and you had to differentiate.
To sum up, my vote: JAMES”
James says: “I was always fascinated by strangers that no sooner did I introduce myself as James, they jump right into calling me Jimbo. Really? Jimbo is where you started? Know a lot of Jimbos do you? But I didn’t get annoyed by it too much because it was often a good way to weed out the douche bags.
I just had a son on Saturday but opted for Jack. I am the third James in the family (and the only one actually called James) but the name will end on three. I wish you all the luck in choosing your son’s name.”
Me: One word: Rocky. You know, “Cut me, Mick.” Burgess Meredith, who played Rocky’s grizzled old trainer, was iconic as Mickey. I also love Denis Leary’s sponsor/cousin, Mickey, from “Rescue Me.” Mickey loans you money. Mickey will drive your sister home when she’s drunk and not even consider feeling her up. Mickey plays pool but won’t shark you. However, does it sound too much like Nicky? And does one have to start with the name Michael to get to Mickey?
The Name Expert: You want to know what I really think? You can’t name a kid Mickey. Yes, there’s the mouse, Mickey Rourke, and I dunno, do you really want a son who’s the movie sidekick, too good for his own good? Plus, what if he wants to be a bond trader (you’re a writer, this could be a good thing), except they won’t let him into business school because he’s got such an infantile name? I repeat: You can’t name a kid Mickey.
You say: Mickey was suggested by one person. Oddly enough, Micah was the king of the “M” names from you guys, which also included favorites Max, Miles, Milo and Mitchell.
Me: This is the only really quirky name on my short list. I like juxtaposing ethnicities, an in-your-face Irish first name with a crazy Polish last name. And the book “Finnegan’s Wake” took, like, 17 years to write, and I like the idea of someone slaving over a book most people can neither read nor understand. And I love the nickname Finn. Is this getting too Aiden/Jaden/Caden? Is Finn trying too hard? Are girls co-opting this one, too?
The Name Expert: I actually think Finn is really the better name. Finn McCool is the greatest hero of Irish mythology. Why does everyone think they have to pick Finnegan or Finnian or Finlay and then call their kid Finn? It’s not like Jim. That rant over: Yes, it is getting too common. It is very easy to like, and that’s its problem. Ah, alternatives to Finnegan: You mean Irish surname’y names? Are you Irish? Do you have any in your family? I do kind of like the Maguire/O’Brien thing, but I think the name’s got to be real to pull it off. Here’s an Irish name that’s totally undiscovered: Piran. Patron saint of miners.
You say: Finn was suggested, as were Finbar, Felix and Fred. As far as unusual names go, you guys were not at a loss. Some of my favorites include: Hoagy, Balthazar, Cabot, Miller, Lazare, Kyd, Spider, Stosh, Zeno, Jaspar and Taytum.
You sent some great Irish-sounding names, too, including Declan, Gavin, Ian, Liam, Colm, Caleb (very popular), Logan, Dylan, Lachlan, Rowan, Rylan and Seamus.
Me: My husband has all but closed the swinging saloon door on this one, but I still like it because Shanes are always hot. And the Polish cowboy thing still calls to me. The Mr. thinks it’s too cute and maybe too precious and trying too hard. He has started giving me the stink eye every time I mention it.
The Name Expert: Absolutely no. You’re birthing him, not dating him.
You say: Lots of love for the name Shane, but some disdain, too.
Dignan says: “Teresa, I love you, and I hate to crap on your waffle, but my parents named me Shane and I hated it. I remember being two years old and hating my name. I’ve never stopped hating it. Also, I’m sad to report that not all boys named Shane are attractive.”
Shanesmommy says: “My husband hates trendy names and also loved Shane because it was different without being trendy or as TACS says, “F’ed Out”.”
Me: This is racing toward the top for me. Eddie and Ed are cute nicknames. Edward was my grandfather. Sure, he was manic-depressive, but he always had a freezer full of rocky road ice cream and he once made me feel like a genius for getting the word “mauve” in a game of Boggle when I was eight.
Is Edward too boring? Will there be too many Edwards in his world? Sometimes my husband test drives this one by saying “Edward” very sternly to my belly. It feels right.
The Name Expert: This is what we wanted to name our second son (now 16). We were going to call him Ned. We loved it, and I still do. But our older kids, aged 10 and 4, said it was a nerd name and they would hate him if we called him Ned, so we didn’t do it. And now he thanks us. But I still have regrets and think the “Twilight” Edward has substantially increased the hotness factor. I love this name and definitely think it’s the best on your list.
You Say: Several of you wrote in to suggest Edward. Other “E” names you sent my way include Eamon, Eli, Elijah (very popular), Elliot, Enzo, Eric, Ethan, Evan, Ewan and Ezra.