Issue 58

What to Name the Baby


                The leading cause of childhood trauma is, not surprisingly, a child’s name.  Therefore, when picking a child’s name, at the very least you have to consider the taunting nicknames and the bad words with which it will rhyme so well.  Some parents, once they find the perfect name, like to keep it a secret until after the baby arrives, as if someone could race ahead, have a baby before them, and steal the name.

                This morning my neighbor Eric called.  He had that giddy “It’s a son!” sparkle in his voice.

                “How is Cathy?” I asked.

                “She’s great,” Eric said.

                “So, finally, what’s the little one’s name?”

                “There are...complications,” he said quietly.

                “I thought you had a name all picked out.”

                “I’ll explain later.”  Then he hung up, mysteriously.

                Remembering how difficult it was to think of cooking that first week, I pull a tray of enchiladas out of the freezer to make sure they have something for dinner.

                Cathy answers the door.  I have never seen her look so distressed.  “He’s asleep,” she mouths to me.

                “Is everything all right?” I ask in a whisper.

                “Well,” says Cathy, “we could really use some help.”

                In the other room Eric bangs his head against his computer monitor.  “I’m an idiot,” he moans.  “I should have gotten it months ago.”

                “Gotten what?” I ask.

                “His domain,” says Eric.  “  Somebody else already got it.” He types for a furious moment, then slams down the enter key.  “Honey,” he says, “I’m trying  Can you think of any good middle names starting with x?”

                “What are you doing?” I ask.

                “I’m buying my son his own domain.  It’s the birthright of the new millennia,” says Eric.  “It’s like the homesteading days, when wagons would race out to stake a claim.”  He types some more.  “I just didn’t think there were so many Sanders in the world.  Every variation I can think of is taken.”  He cradles his head in his hands.  “I’m a terrible father.”

                “Aren’t you being a bit hard on yourself?” I ask.

                “That’s easy for you to say,” he says, bitterness in his voice.  “How many people in the world have your last name?”  He looks up to heaven.  “Why couldn’t I have a weird last name?  Hey honey, can we change our last name?”

                “Eric,” Cathy says, “you know what your father would say.”

                “Yeah, but he doesn’t understand how important this is.  Just imagine,” Eric says, his eyes sparkling, “when the girls ask, ‘What’s your email?’  he could say, ‘’  That would be so awesome.”

                “Xavier,” says Cathy suddenly.

                “Xavier is a cool middle name,” Eric says, “isn’t it?”  Then the computer screen flashes.  “Dang.  It’s already taken.

                “What about Ryan?” I ask.  “Have you tried to find a domain for him?”

                “He’s going to share his brother’s domain,” said Eric.  Do I sense a major complex just waiting to develop here?  “It’s different for Ryan,” says Eric, sensing my confusion.  “He already has a name.”

                “Doesn’t Jacob?”

                “We haven’t filled out the birth certificate yet,” says Eric sheepishly.  “But that also means there’s still a chance of finding him a domain.”

                Hours later, the enchiladas sit ravaged and cold in the kitchen.

                “Try Bartholomew,” says Cathy.

                “But that would make his initials BS,” says Eric.  Then, “No, you’re right.”  Typing.  “Taken.”

                “Are there any names we haven’t tried?” says Cathy, exasperated.

                “I once knew a girl named Euphoric,” says Eric.  The computer pings.  “Dang.  Someone bumped our bid on to $3,300.  Honey,” says Eric sweetly, “can we go up to $3,500?”

                “I suppose I could go back to work a week early,” says Cathy.

                There’s a small cry behind us.  I turn and see Grandma holding the precious newborn.  His eyes are closed and his little patch of hair is matted to the side of his head.

                “He’s beautiful,” I say.

                “Victory!” shouts Eric.  I look at the screen.  “No vowels.  Pretty clever, eh?”

                “Congratulations,” I say.  I look at the clock.  It’s after midnight.

                Eric relaxes, then tenses up immediately. “Cathy,” he says as she begins to feed Jcb, “remember how we were thinking about having a third?”  He starts typing again.

                “You know it’s never too early to start searching.”


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