baby names for dummiesFrom now on, whenever someone asks me what my baby’s name is, I’m going to answer, “Michael.” Coming up with baby names is one of the best parts of having a baby. There’s the stripper test for example: “MUFFIN? YEAH, OK, HEY MUFFIN, HERE’S A 20 FOR YOU TO DO A DANCE.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, never share your baby’s name until after birth, because that way no one can say, “What? You named your kid ‘Scout?’” (Which, personally, I think is a great name.) But it turns out even AFTER you name your child something a little different and unique, it’s a pain in the ass.

I named my baby Holt. I did the male version of the stripper test. “Hey, that’s Holt who scored that goal!” And, “This is my boyfriend, Holt.” But…but…but. Either people think I’m a fucking moron or some people really don’t know social etiquette.

My baby wasn’t even born yet when the cracks of his name appeared in a gossip column in a national Canadian newspaper. I had written that I had choose his name, in another publication, and this gossip columnist wrote something like, “Rebecca Eckler has picked out her son’s name that will go really well with a pink bag.” The reference to the “pink bag” was because here in Canada, we have a high-end department chain called Holt Renfrew. They put your purchases in pink bags. That was the first time I thought, hmmm, do people really think I’m fucking stupid enough to name my child after a department store? It would be like naming my child, “Walmart,” or, “Target,” for god’s sake!

The second time, a woman at the gym with a daughter who also has a fairly unique name made a stupid joke like, “I guess your mother really likes to shop at Holt’s.” Yeah. I know. Ha ha ha. It’s not everyone’s fault all the time.

Many times people ask his name and I’ll say, “Holt,” and they’ll say, “What?” to which I’ll respond, “HOLT! H-O-L-T! Holt!”

Two out of 10 times, I will get, “That’s a great name.” The eight other times I’ll be forced to say, “You know, like HOLT RENFREW!” because they are staring at me blankly.

I adore unique baby names but buyer beware if you don’t name your child Sarah or Daniel. For the rest of your life, you will hear, “That’s an interesting name,” or, “What was his/her name again?” Because when you give your baby an unique name, it’s almost as if a). people can’t help but make jokes (“Oh, you named your daughter Porsche. You must really like sporty cars! Ha ha ha!”) And b). people honestly become suddenly hard of hearing.

Never ONCE, that I can remember, when people ask my son’s name, did I only have to respond, “Holt,” once. It’s more like THREE times I have to repeat his name.

One of the babies in my son’s weekly playgroup is named Mason. Would I ever say, “Did you name him after a Mason jar?” Um, no.

Holt is a family name, which is what I started telling people, because it’s the truth. My Jewish grandfather who escaped to Canada way back and couldn’t get a job with the last name Burnholtz (too Jewish) shortened his last name to Burns. I loved my grandfather, so I wanted to honor him by bringing back “Holt.” End of story.

But I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life explaining this story every time someone cracks a joke about my son having half of a name of a department store. Never once did I think, “Well, hey, yeah I sometimes buy shoes at Holt Renfrew. Hey! What a great name for a boy!”

So go on – name your baby whatever the heck you want. I always thought that unique names are the better way to go, especially if it has some sort of meaning to you. (Yes, we fucked in Paris. So we named her Paris!) But I’m realizing the cons of unique baby naming. Even my daughter, Rowan, I have issues with. Most of the time, when I tell people her name, they automatically think she’s a boy.

Be prepared for the questions and explanations of your choice of name. But, please, don’t insult me by even cracking a joke – especially because it’s not really all that funny – that I named my son Holt after a fucking department store. And if you can’t handle it, well, just call him “Mike.” I swear, I think about doing it sometimes. NOT! Holt is his name and it rocks.

(photo: alist)