When I asked Ashley how she knows how the kids' names are spelled (thinking that perhaps an employee gave their cups the "Starbucks name treatment"), she said, "They're embroidered on matching lunch bags. I'd hoped they were brands of lunch bag, but was sorely disillusioned after hearing, 'Phillie, share your latte with BrewBrew." Soooo yeah that's just about the most obnoxious thing I can imagine. Well done, Starbucks mom. You embody precisely what this annual column is about.
Before we take a look at just a few of the dozens of baby name submissions I've received since last year's column, allow me to say that I know that making fun of a name is lowbrow humor. The world is full of a beautiful range of diverse people, and celebrating those differences is what life is all about, yoonique names included. That being said, this decade-long tide of absurd names (due either to the name itself, the spelling, the pronunciation, or some combination thereof) is awash with stupidity. The overeagerness some people display to have the koolest kidd on the blahk is more than apparent, and the difficulties those kids will have in life are far more punishing than any column I could ever write. And I'm not even talking about bullying -- I'm just talking about the grueling exercise of having to spell out one's name 10000000 times in a lifetime for any number of reasons, not to mention the 10000000 times someone else will read a roll call comprised of names that quite literally make no fucking sense. Yes, every name must originate somewhere, and no one is advocating for more Johns or Janes, but adding an unnecessary 'x', 'y', or 'z' to a name -- or coming up with a new name altogether -- doesn't actually help a kid look good. It just makes his/her parents look bad.
Now, let's get on with that roll call for a new generation!
1. Golden Girl Boy
2.Blessed Beyond Words
Brittany is blessed beyond words -- so much so that she made up a couple of new ones herself when she named her baby! The first name kind of sounds like the industrial band Ministry, except duh, it's not, it's McKINSTRY! Maybe Brittany took two family names and stuck them together? Maybe she forgot that 'Marynn' looks like 'Maryann' when it's missing an 'a'? Or maybe, just maybe, she thinks she's a total freakin' genius. It's a toss-up.
3. Sorry, Come Again?
"Zhyrhyla" is what all words sound like when people try to talk while they're brushing their teeth. Pronounced, I'm assuming it sounds like the name of a flower, except, like, the scientific name. I honestly have no clue how to say it out loud, but hey, maybe this will inspire some kind of contest among Zhyrhyla's parents' friends? "Guess The Proper Pronunciation" will net one lucky winner a whole day of babysitting! Or something. Mostly I just wonder what the look on people's faces will be when they inevitably ask, "Oh, Zhyrhyla, how do you spell that?" and Mom or Dad reply back with a stuttering stream of 'h's 'y's. It'll probably be something like this.
4. A Nation Obsessed With The Letter 'J'
Jerzy and Jerny are destined to be the Donny and Marie of our times. How could they not be with those names that deserve to be in lights? Even the Duggars haven't made use of these injenius names yet. Let's face it: Jinger and Jessa ain't got shit on Jerzy and Jerny. One kid is named after a delightful knit fabric and/or the state of New Jersey and/or a British Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, and the other is named after the concept of travel and/or one of the biggest hit-making bands of all time! Sopranos fans rejoice.
5. So Random
Remember how the sitcom "That's So Raven" (based around teenager Raven Baxter, whose real name is Raven-Symoné) was kind of a play on the popular teen expression "that's so random"? Wellllllll, if the Disney channel is looking for its next big star and wants to reclaim the old expression, this kid could totally fill the shoes of the leading role (both literally and figuratively). Also, when your shoes have a more common name than your kid, you may as well just leave it out of the status update. It's confusing.
6. Puke From A Scar
Thankfully, Mary is not referring to a scab that started vomiting all over her face. Unthankfully, she is referring to her son whom she named Scar. My question is, what exactly does one expect from a baby named Scar? Sweet smiles and light gas? I don't think so. This kid is getting a head start on the rest of his thug life. Time doesn't wait for guys like Scar to puke on people. It's just who they are.
7. Sibling Names WTF
8. The Never-Ending Popularity Of "en's"
This conversation sounds like a comedy sketch, but it's really just life as we now know it. Adding the "en" sound to the "en"d of names is so popular, kids with 'y' names are going to be positively jealous! And teachers everywhere are going to start keeping back-up flasks in their desks.
9. There Are No Stupid Questions
I love the way Emily is all, "English motherfucker! Do you speak it?" when answering Natasha's perfectly reasonable question. For all Natasha knows, Rylynn's name is pronounced "Ree-Line" or maybe "Rye-Line." To the casual Facebook user with young parent friends, "Rye-Lynn" almost seems too obvious. Soon, people are going to feel compelled to ask how to pronounce basic names like Steve or Dana just because you never know what the parents' intentions are. We're in a doomed name vortex of mammoth-sized proportions. Or, "ma'amuth-syzed proporshians," depending on your preference.
Words! Aren't they fun? Jumbling them up, rearranging letters and pronunciations, or simply yanking new ones out of the clear blue sky is what modern society is all about. Customization is key. Like Burger King says, "Have it your way." Why should every name be classic Whopper when you can indulge in new flavors like apple burgers with cinnamon-infused mayonnaise? It's like when Merriam-Webster re-defined the word 'literally' to accommodate its informal use. The times they are a changin'. You can name your kid John or Jane if you want to, but they're gonna get left behind in a sea of Shadens and Rylynns. After that, all the kid has left is his or her personality.