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Hither Ronan

Picking baby names is a very important business. I know this because if you start looking for baby name crap, it’s everywhere. Baby Names for Dummies is at your local supermarket. Baby name books abound in your library, your bookstore, and my apartment.

The last name was easy. Since my wife kept her name, the last name would be Meyers if it were a girl and McDonald if it was a boy. Apparently McDonald-Meyers or Meyers-McDonald sounds too much like a British landowner or something.

I was very excited about picking a name, because my family has a long, proud tradition of pretending they are Irish, when we’re actually from all over the world, and when it comes down to it, we’re more American than anything else. So I would get to honor all these generations of faux Irish McDonalds with a good solid, Irish name.

Of course, this was assuming that my wife, who is technically more Irish than I am, would be into the whole Irish thing.  (I know: I’m not supposed to mention her. WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB, and we do not talk about my wife.) I quickly realized that the hard-core Irish names were out. Also any name that evoked a vision of Ronald. As in McDonald.

In fact, I began to realize that most names were out. After suggesting approximately 1,000,000,000 names, I decided I wasn’t as serious about finding a name as I once was. My wife would dismiss each suggestion with “It’ll get beaten up at school with that name.” Apparently suburban Michigan circa 1975 was a tough school district without any mercy for the uniquely named; I tried to imagine my wife witnessing the daily beatings of kids named Liam or Hazel. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, well, on some level public school is a big ball of suck, and that everyone had been tormented by some bully, and unless we home-schooled and called the kid “IT” for the rest of his life, the last name McDonald would earn some brute’s attention before the child graduated high school.

Those people close to me know that I have a lifelong passion for World War II history. So. Because every name was shot down anyway, I decided that I would start to try names of German Generals who didn’t commit horrific battlefield atrocities. (It’s a short list.)

I thought Erwin Rommel McDonald might work. It’s catchy, it flows nice and it’s like Ronald, earning the double punishment of the playground. However, for some reason, naming the kid after ethical Nazi Generals didn’t please my wife. Go figure!

Unlike some couples, we agreed we wanted to know the gender when we could, so at one of the ultrasounds we found out it was going to be a boy. So that eliminated 50% of the names immediately.

However, this really didn’t help my dilemma. Terry rejected Apu Nahasapeemapetilon McDonald, Frank Sinatra McDonald, and Tansal, Brendan, Val, Madani, Yves, and Cris McDonald. (They are some of my closest friends.)

There was one name I wasn’t mentioning, and that’s because I wanted it SO badly I had to think of the right time to bring it up. I really, really wanted to name the baby Ryan after my brother. Ryan is a great friend, a terrific brother, and the best role model the baby will have. So when I thought the moment was right, I announced it as a choice. And Terry loved the idea and we were done.

Actually, I made that last part up. My wife has this other rule about baby names – you can’t name a child after anyone living or dead. I know, that limits parents somewhat. I’ve done some research and pretty much everyone is living or dead at some point, and striking all 12 billion humans off of the list was a severe blow.

Actually, she wanted the baby to have a unique identity, and since the McDonald family has a complicated legally binding contract where you can only marry someone whose name is either Joe or someone already in the family, she didn’t want the kid and his uncle to be mistaken for each other. (Or something like that actually makes sense. I forget because I suck at listening most of the time.) She felt really bad about it, but since she’s responsible for 50% of this baby, she gets to deny whatever name doesn’t work for her. I was able to veto some of her choices as well.

I also gave in because I held out hope that Ryan might make the middle name. After protracted negotiations using United Nations diplomatic resources, Rhyon was the middle name. Just like my brother’s name but spelled differently.

Shortly after that, we found a name that didn’t make either of us gag. Apparently a big part of picking a name is remembering that every guy you’ve met named Craig or whatever is a total idiot, and that makes you decide to keep looking. So, we decided on Aidan, and we were happy.

I told my parents, who took out a full-page ad in the New York Times and the Buffalo News to tell everyone of the impending birth of Aidan McDonald. I think they may have also hired a blimp. (It’s their first grandchild, they are very proud.)

However, my father-in-law found Social Security’s Popular Baby Names, which showed that Aidan was fast rising in popularity. Terry, being a math whiz, added the two spellings (Aiden and Aidan) together and found that it was the twelfth most popular name in 2005. We were back to square one when about 1,000,000 other couples named their kid Aiden, making it the most popular name of 2006. Aidan instantly bit the dust.

So, we picked Ronan, for the same reason we picked Aidan. We couldn’t think of a guy named Ronan in our entire life that made us cringe. Ronan means “little seal” in Gaelic.

I like the name Ronan. It’s Irish (no, really) and it’s slightly unusual without pushing the “Tristan” envelope of romance novel stereotype. Throughout my entire life, I can’t think of anyone named Ronan who was a total dick to me. Plus, it’s like not even in the top 500 American names. (It is increasing in popularity.)

However, a problem soon emerged. We were so set on Aidan we couldn’t stop calling the baby Aidan. Then, instead of calling him Ronan, we called him anything but Ronan. Roland was really popular for a while. Nolan was his name for several days. We just couldn’t get Ronan out from between our lips.

Plus, you have not only the parents’ approval of their child’s name, but also the approval of the grandparents. Terry’s Mom didn’t like the name to begin with, but now says it’s growing on her. I don’t know if it’s really growing on her of if she detected the horror of continuing the baby name search in my voice. I like to think that the name is growing on her. It’s her third grandchild, so she’s not particularly worried about things, as she knows the kid will be happy and healthy.

My parents are taking the high road as well. They could hate the name; I seriously doubt it, but they are so nervous that my emotional instability is going to be directed at them (since it usually is) that anything is fine with them, as long as the kid is born healthy and happy. My Dad pretty much got all he wanted with the kid being a boy anyway.

I really like it. Not because it’s the only name my wife could agree upon, but because it feels right. It feels like the name we should use. I think that’s the best reason of all.

My parents told me a story about naming both my brother and me, choosing Jason and Ryan because they were unusual names. Both names were in the top ten the years we were born. So, I’m sure we’ve picked the most popular name of 2007.

Besides, my cousin pointed out that until they present us with the birth certificate to sign, there’s still time to change our minds. And the name really doesn't matter as long as the birth of our first child brings Terry and I closer together.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 27, 2007 1:30 AM.

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