Other Opinions

What’s in a name? Just ask Nemesis

By Dwain Walden


At the end of each year, someone who has absolutely nothing else to do in this world — including watching the lost episodes of Lawrence Welk — comprises a list of the most popular baby names.

I’m not sure why this knowledge is important to us. I guess it’s a good conversation piece if you don’t have photos of all your grandchildren doing cute stuff like putting a dress on the dog or drawing a mustache on grandpa while he’s asleep.

So let me tell you the top 10 so you might compare it with your brood.

Let’s do girls first: Sophia is at the top. Then we have Emma, Olivia, Ava, Mia, Isabella, Riley, Aria, Zoe and Charlotte.

For the boys it was Jackson, Aiden, Lucas, Liam, Noah, Ethan, Mason, Caden, Oliver, and Elijah. Notice in this selection you have two Biblical references as well as a popular actor who can stop a Third World revolution with a cork screw and a pack of firecrackers.

Now these all seem like names that you wouldn’t mind being announced during public events such as graduations and your first military roll call.

But not all kids were so lucky. In many cases they were given crosses to bear. I will restate a position I took years ago that kids should have the right to change their given names if, by the third grade, they have been ridiculed in poems, chants and giggles. Or if their teachers have to ask them how their names are pronounced. There may be instances where parents should be charged with child cruelty because of name choices.

Some names may be a little off the beaten path but still pretty decent — names like Happy, Wise, Famous, Beauty, Celestial, Success and Divinity. But then there are the names that exude negativity: Wraith, Furious, Trigger, Nemesis, Minor, Shy and Danger. And even some alcoholic names: Chardonnay and Gin.

There were kids named after cars: Subaru, Lexus, Infiniti, Audi and Porsche. Could it be that was where they were conceived? And then there were kids with other brand names: Armani, Dasani, Dior and Chanel.

Related to all of this, I also would like to renew an appeal I made in a column some years ago and that is to decide what you’re going to call your kid and make that his or her first name. It’s simply a matter of practicality and functionality.

I spent six weeks down at Mayo Clinic in late summer and fall, and I was known as Elmer D. Walden there. It didn’t matter that I told them I went by my middle name, Dwain. That wasn’t important to them. And after a couple of days of high octane chemo, it didn’t matter to me either. At that point I didn’t care what they called me, just as long as they came when I called them. I fully embraced their protocol.

There must be some force in the cosmos that says when it comes to basic identification as a matter of convention, we will be called by our first names regardless of our wishes. Such has been established much like someone or some thing decided there would only be 12 notes in all musicdom. There is no “H” note following the “G.”

Now I just think there are times when it’s crucial to think things through. Run some scenarios. Ask yourself what could go wrong. These times should include choosing your child’s name, deciding whether to punch out the school bully and whether to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Dwain Walden is from The Moultrie Observer (Moultrie, Ga.). This column was distributed by Tribune Content Agency.