NYT columnist John Tierney's middle name is Marion, which caused him no end of grief as a child:
I had vivid memories of playground serenades to my middle name: “Marion . . . Madam Librarian!” (My tormentors didn’t care that the “Music Man” librarian spelled her name with an “a.”)But, Tierney finds, modern research has overturned the outmoded notion that giving a kid an unusual or cross-gender name turns them into unemployable "psychoneurotics". Dr. Cleveland Evans, former head of the American Names Society, says it can have a major benefit: instilling a greater sense of self-control. [You mean like when a child is presented with an opportunity to mock his classmates' unusually detailed knowledge of Broadway musicals?]
Tierney's hook for his Marioniad is the publication of a new book, Bad Baby Names, authors Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback's compilation of crazy names from old US Census records. But here's the kicker. All these bad, old baby names came from dads:
“Today it’s all about individuality,” Mr. Sherrod said. “In the past, there was more of a sense of humor, probably because fathers had more say in the names.” He said the waning influence of fathers might explain why there are no longer so many names like Nice Deal, Butcher Baker, Lotta Beers and Good Bye, although some dads still try.See what happens when you give women the vote? Not a hundred years goes by, and these power-drunk broads are strangling our awesome baby name ideas in the crib!
“I can’t tell you,” Mr. Sherrod said, “how often I’ve heard guys who wanted their kid to be able to say truthfully, ‘Danger is my middle name.’ But their wives absolutely refused.”
Or maybe that's just how it looks from Provo, Utah. Sherrod is a VP at Ancestry.com, which published the book, and which put the census records online. Now I'm just as Mormon as the next guy who searched genealogy records to find a crazy name, only to have his wife veto it. But given the choice between naming my kid Mozingo [come on, it's family!] and living in a world where women are assumed to have an equal say in raising a child, I'll take the latter.
Bad Baby Names - A Boy Named Sue, and a Theory of Names [nyt via dt reader darren]
Buy Bad Baby Names on Amazon, or, you know, don't, since it's a PR stunt for the company and will probably end up as a single webpage anyway [amazon]
Bad Baby Names [badbabynames.net]