For expectant parents in search of a name, one go-to resource is the Social Security Administration's list of most popular baby names from the year before. Which is odd. Because when you think about it, the most popular baby names should be the ones you desire least. Why would you want to launch your child into the world in the most unremarkable way possible?
But if you really can't tear yourself away from the top of the list, here are a few things to chew on that might change your mind and help you avert disaster.
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Let's talk about the top 10 boys' names from last year:
- Jacob. I know what you're thinking with this one and you're not fooling anyone. You're well aware this becomes "Jake" in about four minutes, and that's your plan: so your son can turn into Jake Gyllenhall. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. You have to earn becoming an over-played song in Taylor Swift's repertoire.
- Mason. Lord, no. Why is this name so popular? Are people standing around canning preserves when they talk about what to call their baby? Mason sounds like either a lawyer or a butler, and why would you wish either of those professions on your child?
- Ethan. Ethans, to me, are neurotic disasters. Name one well-adjusted Ethan. Ethan Frome? Suicidal adulterous trainwreck. Ethan Allen? A bedroom set that helped found Vermont. Ethan Hawke? 'Nuff said. Ethan is the name of the kid who somehow wedgied himself at recess and ended up at the nurse's office. I realize that Tom Cruise's character in the oh-so-manly Mission Impossible movies is named Ethan, but that kind of just makes my point, no?
- Noah. Building an ark, are we? Pass.
- William. What have there been, like, approximately eight trillion Williams in history? Yes, you might evoke a prince, a president, or Shakespeare, but you're just as likely to conjure Shatner or Hung. (Remember him?) And this stately sounding name always ends up devolving into an utterly in-one-ear-and-out-the-other nickname like Bill, Billy, Will, Willy, or Will.i.am. Still not convinced? Picture your son 17 years from now bravely approaching a pretty girl who is already getting chatted up by Troy, Conor, and Corey. "Hi, I'm Billy!" he says cheerily. Game over.
- Liam. First of all, are you Irish? No? Then stop -- you don't get to use Liam. Liam is as Irish as a ninth pint of Guinness on March 17. If you are Irish, have at it. But just know we will always be measuring your son against Liam Neeson, and that, my friend, is a losing proposition.
- Jayden. This one is a hot mess. Did you know that "Jayden" first cracked the top 1,000 US names list in 1994? And do you know what happened in 1994? An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation happened. Specifically one in which Lieutenant Commander Data, a robot with terrible skin and bunny eyes, loses his memory while marooned on some planet, so the natives give him the name -- that's right -- Jayden. Is that the legacy you want for your son? "But, Will Smith!" you're crying out. "Will Smith!" Will Smith's son is named "Jaden," not Jayden. It's like nobody even tries to Google anymore ...
- Michael. Far as I'm concerned, there are only three Michaels -- Jackson, Jordan, and the archangel. You want to put your kid up against that, be my guest.
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- Alexander. Ok, NO ONE is named Alexander. Once upon a time, sure -- kings and popes galore. But when have you ever called an Alexander "Alexander"? It's always "Alex." So let's talk about Alex for a minute. Ummm ... I got nothing. Alex is the nomenclatural equivalent of "blah." Good for a boy, good for a girl, good for a parrot or a vacuum cleaner or whatever you want. You want your son to put the world to sleep every time he introduces himself, go with Alexander/Alex.
- Aiden. Another Irish name you shouldn't touch if your blood isn't at least one-quarter green. In my mind, it's the least odious of the most popular names, but I also believe it's cursed. How many famous Aidens can you name? Go ahead, I'll wait. Politicians, entertainers, athletes, kings, business tycoons -- nada. (Aiden Quinn? I said famous.) Aiden is like the anti-Michael: if you're named Aiden, you don't go on to do jack diddly. Frankly, you're better off with "Jayden."
Were you thinking of any of these names? Did this change your mind?
Image via © iStock.com/Jani Bryson